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Current Storm Helping but California's "Worst Drought in 1200 Years" Needed 11 Trillion Gallons

Feb 07, 2015 09:39AM ● Published by Brian O

NOAA Forecasted Rainfall Through Next Week

It's obviously a serious drought when a February rain storm in Northern California feels unusual and is a welcomed relief from blue skies and 60-degree weather.

A NASA study found that at the peak of the drought in 2014, "It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) -- around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir -- to recover from California's continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data."

Those magnitude of those numbers are a bit hard to appreciate but it's clear the conservation is a critical part of the solution while we wait for nature to lend us a hand.
Change in water storage throughout the state from September 2011 and September 2014. Image Credit: NASA JPL

The report continued, "since 2011, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins decreased in volume by four trillion gallons of water each year (15 cubic kilometers). That's more water than California's 38 million residents use each year for domestic and municipal purposes. About two-thirds of the loss is due to depletion of groundwater beneath California's Central Valley."

Another report in the Geophysical Resource Letters looked at "Tree Ring Chronologies" to determine that while 3-year droughts are common in California the 2012-2014 drought is the worst in 1,200 years.  

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