Update from the Pacific Institute California Drought Response Group – May 2


For the latest updates about the California drought go to www.californiadrought.org

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This week in… Wildfires

Wildfire Awareness Week begins on Sunday and 2014 has already seen a handful of large fires throughout the state. Since January 1, California has had 14 wildfires that have burned 6,764 acres. An April 29 fire in San Bernardino County is currently 53% contained and has so far burned 2,190 acres in an area north of Rancho Cucamonga. The Etiwanda fire, which forced the evacuation of 1,600 homes, was helped along by strong Santa Ana winds, with strong gusts that prevented low-flying firefighting aircraft from entering the area.


See full-sized image. Source: http://goo.gl/maps/B6jje
Icons indicate 2014 fires; red icons are still currently burning, though may be completely contained



 Yesterday, The National Interagency Fire Center issued their monthly National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for May through August, with above-normal fire potential expected to begin in June for most of California and persist through August. The outlook noted that current dryness conditions are near record dry levels, conditions that usually aren’t seen until mid-June. Fuels are expected to remain critically dry from mid-June through the end of the fire season.

In News from Sacramento…

  • The Department of Water Resources released a report to the Governor’s drought task force, as required by the January drought declaration. The report finds that the majority of the state’s groundwater is at historic lows and is continuing to decline. The recent Executive Order requires that an updated report be submitted in November 2014.
  • On Friday, April 25, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order to strengthen the state’s efforts to manage drought.
  • The State Water Resources Control Board is projecting to deliver curtailment orders for most junior water rights holders in 10 different rivers and their watersheds. This would be the first time this has happened since 1977.

California Drought Status

US Drought Monitor

There has been no change since last week in California drought conditions, with 77% of the state still in extreme to exceptional drought.



Large sections of California, including the Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada mountains, did receive some rain this week, although not enough to significantly alter drought conditions.


California snowpack is currently at about 13% of the April 1 average, down from 14% last week.

Reservoir Conditions

Statewide, California’s major reservoirs are at about 50% of total capacity and about 66% of historical average. Levels in the state’s nine largest reservoirs are together below 62% of their historical average and below 48% of their total capacity.