Stunning drone photos show severity of drought at Lake Shasta

Boats are docked at a marina
Boats tied up at a Lake Shasta marina, hundreds of feet below where they are usually moored, as water levels continue to drop due to persisting drought conditions.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Share

Droughts are common in California, but this year’s is much hotter and drier than others, evaporating water more quickly from the reservoirs and the sparse Sierra Nevada snowpack that feeds them.

The state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year, according to Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

A houseboat is beached at Lake Shasta.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Last year was the third-driest on record in terms of precipitation. Temperatures hit triple digits in much of California over the Memorial Day weekend, earlier than expected. State officials were surprised earlier this year when about 500,000 acre feet of water they were expecting to flow into reservoirs never showed up. One acre-foot is enough water to supply up to two households for one year.

Advertisement

Currently Lake Shasta, the state’s largest surface water reservoir, is at 38% of capacity, according the the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Water levels at Lake Shasta are lower as drought conditions persist.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Bare dirt and rocks exposed as the water level has fallen form a "bathtub ring" around Lake Shasta
Bare dirt and rocks exposed as the water level has fallen form a “bathtub ring” around Lake Shasta, which is only at 38% of capacity.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Interstate 5 bridge crosses drought-depleted Lake Shasta
Interstate 5 bridge crosses drought-depleted Lake Shasta.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
The receding shoreline at a boat ramp illustrates the worsening drought conditions on Lake Shasta.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
A railroad bridge frames an old roadway and bridge, revealed by receding water levels on Lake Shasta.
A railroad bridge stands over an old road and bridge that had been submerged by the reservoir, revealed again by receding water levels.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

"Bathtub ring" is stark evidence of shrinking Lake Shasta
“Bathtub ring” is stark evidence of the falling water level at Lake Shasta.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Lake Shasta, the state’s largest surface water reservoir, was at 50% of capacity in March. It's at 38% now.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
An old roadway and bridge revealed by receding water levels on Lake Shasta.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)