However, there could be some good news from the wildly fluctuating weather in the Golden State. As a result of record levels of rain and snowpack this winter, some drought-stricken “zombie lakes” appear to have come back to life.
Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, two of the largest reservoirs in the state, are 86% full, according to data compiled by the Los Angeles Times. That’s a drastic increase from late last year when they were only 35% full.
And if those numbers aren’t shocking enough, the pictures tell the story even better. Photos of Lake Shasta taken in September 2021 show what appears to be a bone-dry valley.
Pictures taken from the exact same spot in April 2023 show a vast landscape. The difference between the two images is so stark that you might not even realize they were the same location if it weren’t for the bridge running through the middle of both photos.
Similar images exist of Lake Oroville, with the difference between them being just as stark.
“It’s been a wild year,” Fresno County farmer David “Mas” Masumoto told The Washington Post. “We forget, November and December, it looked like another drought. We all braced for that and planned for that.”
Instead, farmers have actually been able to rely on canals and irrigation ditches for water instead of being forced to pump groundwater, further depleting resources.
Scientists predict, according to the Post, that this is simply the future of California’s climate — years of drought interspersed with extremely wet years like 2023. One of the state’s main challenges now is figuring out how to capture the maximum amount of rainwater when the wet seasons do come.
The weather changes in California align with the climate science maxim of “dry gets drier, wet gets wetter” that describes the phenomenon where all types of weather become more extreme as changes to our planet’s climates occur.
It is probably not the best plan to hope that climate change simply evens itself out, but at least for now, California has been given a reprieve from its years of devastating drought.
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