By Hannah Tong
After five long years of being stuck in the drought, California has finally reached a point where our water has seen above-average precipitation and snowpack.
On Jan. 17, 2014 California State Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency. The drought encompassed over 98 percent of the state of California, with more than 44 percent of California in an “exceptional” drought — the most severe level of drought. It was the driest period in the state’s 163 years of recorded rainfall history.
California’s vegetation was visibly dry, stream and river flows declined, water levels in lakes and reservoirs fell and the depth to water in wells increased. Even some parts of the Sierra Mountains that typically have 66 inches of snowpack were barren.
State water officials say that California’s river and reservoirs were below their record lows.
Therefore, Californians were put on water conservation and restriction laws, such as not being able to water their lawn as much or having car washes in front of their houses.
However, the year 2017 started off with many frequent rainstorms, making it the wettest winter in 20 years. It helped washed away 75 percent of the state’s drought.
“At times, the constant rain made me feel depressed,” expresses senior Janice Chung. “But, I am glad that at least we are not that dry anymore.”
The pounding rain and snowfall not only increased California water levels significantly but also stoked concerns about additional flooding, mudslides and road closures.
At Oroville Dam, authorities were prompted to open up the spillway which only ended up being damaged by the overwhelming snow and rainfall. Authorities eventually called for downstream evacuations of more than 180,000 people in case the emergency spillway failed.
Ever since the state’s precipitation started becoming abundant, closures of freeways also have become a common sighting.
Highway 101 near McKee Rd., was closed due to flooding. When this happened, water is usually pumped into Coyote Creek. However, Coyote Creek was already flowing above flood stage at that time.
“The floods were annoying,” states senior Cynthia Tran. “I couldn’t get to work or literally anywhere.”
With the summer season approaching, though, the weather has been looking clearer and warmer.