With the statewide snowpack at only 52% of the norm for this time of year, state and federal water managers are expecting below-normal spring runoff and falling reservoir levels.
The last three months in California have been the driest of any January-through-March period on record, going back to 1895.
It has been a winter of extremes in the state, beginning with an unusually wet November and December and ending with a string of parched months.
Storage in the state’s two largest reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, is a bit above normal for the date, thanks to the big storms in the Northern Sierra that turned the final three months of last year into the 10th-wettest on record for that region.
But that cushion is expected to disappear in the coming months. Although no one is declaring drought, the state last week cut projected water deliveries to Southern California.