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California’s Mild Snowfall Means the Drought Will Likely Continue

While the winter isn’t over, the state has only received 72 percent of the snow it usually gets by December.

by Meredith Rutland Bauer
Dec 28 2016, 3:19pm

Image: James St. John/Flickr

Californians are keeping a hopeful eye to the Sierra Nevada mountains, hoping for lots of snow to keep the state flowing with water this summer.

So far, it looks like they'll be disappointed. The most recent estimate from a state water agency shows the Sierra Nevadas has only received 72 percent of the snow it receives in non-drought years by late December.

A report from the California Department of Water Resources shows the northern section of the Sierra Nevadas has received 67 percent of its regular snowfall, the central Sierras received 63 percent and the southern Sierras received 86 percent as of Tuesday.

California has endured a five-year drought, and the end doesn't appear to be in sight. Residents have had to cut back on watering landscaping, taking long showers and washing cars.

"Californians' continued commitment to conservation shows they don't take water for granted anymore," said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus in a release. "With climate change playing an increasingly disruptive role, we need to save where we can, when we can. Coupled with recycling, stormwater recapture and other measures, it will extend our local water resilience."

The current La Nina cycle in the Pacific, which typically causes dryer conditions after an El Nino, also isn't helping the situation.

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