By Emily Zhao
Rain and snow storms ravaged much of northern California throughout January, with precipitation rates well above average and over ten feet of snow bury the state’s Sierra Nevadas.
The average rainfall in San Jose is 14.9 inches a year, 62% less rain than the national average. In the month of January 2017 alone, however, San Jose had a total of 7.5 inches of rain according to daily-weather.com.
With the end of 2016, California entered its sixth year in drought. Just one year ago, over 86% of the state was in severe drought. As this was the wettest January meteorologists have seen in recent years, the percentage of California that remains in severe drought has been reduced to 44%, according to San Jose Mercury News.
“Just because the condition of the drought is improving doesn’t mean that we should stop acknowledging it. We should continue to conserve water,” remarks sophomore Mignon Lee.
For the first time in years, California’s reservoirs are brimming with water. The two biggest reservoirs in the state, Shasta and Oroville, are 80% full, while many Bay Area reservoirs are completely full, reports Mercury News. Water is even being released from such reservoirs to prepare for potential flooding.
“We’re so used to living in California with the drought that once we see all the rain, we’re pretty surprised,” laughs senior Lauren Young.
The recent heavy precipitation isn’t the only thing that has relaxed drought conditions.
On May 9, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order to continue water conservation, declaring a number of preventative and remedial methods, from citizens not being allowed to hose down their cars to adopting better agricultural methods to fixing water leaks. Water distribution systems across the state alone leak an average of 700,000 acres-feet of water per year, enough water to meet the needs of 1.4 million homes for a year. Between June 2015 and Nov. 2016, Statewide Water Conservation calculated that over 2.5 million acres-feet of water were saved, according to gov.ca.gov.
“It’s a pretty serious problem, and everyone needs to do their part,” states junior Leo Guo.
While much of Northern California is no longer in severe drought, southern California and San Joaquin Valley remain parched in extreme drought conditions. After the wet month of January ends, the entire state is expected to experience a drying spell along the west coast, explained Weather West.
Although many PHHS students are happy about California’s receding drought, some have mixed feelings about rain.
“When it rains, the students who usually walk to school have to get their parents to drive, which increases the traffic. Also, we feel more inclined to stay in our warm beds, and we end up late to school,” jokes sophomore Gloria Qiu.