The latest Drought Monitor, released on Thursday, shows that the portion of California classified as abnormally dry increased from 3.6% last week to 34.3%, according to the latest data.
For the moment, February looks like it will be a continuation of the dry pattern established in January.
Northern California has been unusually dry since early fall, while Southern California started the season a little early with above-normal precipitation in November and December. Now, some parts of Southern California are falling behind normal too.
Reservoir levels are good, but groundwater levels are dangerously low in many areas.
A dry January has affected the state’s snowpack. Surveyors for the California Department of Water Resources, taking their second seasonal measurement at Phillips station above Lake Tahoe on Thursday, found the snow to be 40.5 inches deep, or 79% of average for the date. The snowpack provides about 30% of the state’s water supply.
February is normally the state’s wettest month, but long-range forecasts aren’t encouraging. According to some predictions, high pressure could set up in the Pacific Ocean west of California and block incoming storms, keeping the state dry.
A map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California-Nevada River Forecast Center shows a below-normal precipitation probability for much of California from Feb. 8 through Feb. 14. In fact, most of the California Coast from San Francisco north almost to the Oregon border is predicted to have significantly below-normal precipitation.