Winter Rains & California’s Changing Drought Conditions

This winter brought record storms to the west coast, dumping feet of rain across California. The National Weather Service reported between 20 to 35 inches of rain in many coastal peaks and the Sierra Nevada from Dec. 26, 2022 to Jan. 19, 2023.1 But what do these storms mean for drought and how does this impact your pool or spa? 

How Are These Storms Impacting Drought?

November through March typically marks the rainy season for California as atmospheric rivers – moisture-laden air pockets that produce heavy rainfall when they land –move across the state. This much needed water helps fill reservoirs and drops snow on mountain peaks across California.

This year’s winter storms are tracking to be on path with some of the wettest winters on record as an index of the Sierra Nevada shows a cumulative monthly average of 39.1 inches of rain as of February 2023. This index is a crucial tool to tracking the watershed levels that feed the state’s important reservoirs. In fact, Lake Orville – the second largest reservoir in California – experienced a dramatic transformation. The lake was so parched from severe drought that it stood just 22 percent full sixteen months ago. In February 2023, Orville is approximately 65 percent full and increased by 1.5 million acre-feet. This means the lake added enough water to meet the annual needs of 7.5 million people. Today, Orville reservoir is at its highest level since May 2020.

California is currently out of an extreme drought rating with much of the state’s level falling between abnormally dry and severe drought designations. However, many places across the state could experience normal conditions should the wet weather slow down, and dry weather take its place. Experts also warn that it would take years of these kinds of storms to completely reverse the drought designations. Knowing this, there are several measures that you can take to conserve water and prepare your pool for dry season.

Be Water Wise

While these winter rains have helped to improve California’s drought conditions, you can still do your part and make sure your pool is water-wise. Checking for leaks both around your house and in your pool is just one way for you be water-wise. Some pool leaks can be found through a visual inspection and repairing them early can help you save money and water.

Another way to conserve water is to properly maintain your pool and its filtration system. Automatic pool cleaners can help you maintain your pool’s water and can even reduce the need to backwash. Winter stormwater can even be reused in an effort to be water-wise. Capture your rainwater to replace any that evaporated and to refill your pool or spa.

California’s rainy season is providing much-needed water across the state, filling reservoirs and increasing snowpacks in the process. As we hope for this trend to continue over the next few months, you can prepare your pool or spa for the dry season. Find more tips and tricks to be water-wise throughout the Let’s Pool Together website and read up on pool facts to ensure your pool is ready to go.