Ed Joyce
Thursday, March 10, 2016 | Sacramento, CA |

The early March storms offset three dry weeks in February, in terms of precipitation, and helped fill some California reservoirs. But the U.S. Drought Monitor says warm temperatures did not build snowpack at lower elevations in the Sierra Nevada.

The first wave of ‘Miracle March’ storms in California offset three dry weeks in February and improved storage in some reservoirs. Now, the state is primed for drought improvement, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released March 10.

Storms last week brought California “some badly-needed precipitation after rather dry and mild conditions the past 3 weeks [February] caused a sharp decline in the Water Year-To-Date (WYTD) precipitation and snowpack that were both above-normal in early February.”

“Therefore, considering that this storm basically negated the decline caused by the prior 3 weeks of dryness and warmth, no changes were made this week,” according to the weekly update. “However, with the state [California] now recharged with short-term moisture, any additional precipitation, especially from a colder system (e.g. lower elevation snows), should provide some improvement to the state, especially in northern and central areas.”

The weekly cutoff time for the Drought Monitor is 7 a.m. EST Tuesday. So, any drought improvement from the series of storms the first week of March in California will be reflected in the March 17 report.

Despite expecting big increases in precipitation and snowpack, in what is normally one of the wettest months of the year in California, the last three weeks of February “stalled” or lowered both. In terms of precipitation, there was improvement to above-normal in the “northern, central (San Joaquin), and southern (Tulare basin) Sierra station indices.”

“More good news from the recent storm was that reservoir storages did increase from the heavy rains and snowmelt from the lower elevations,” the report says.

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