This light but steady rain is a welcome sight in the Sacramento Valley, but where do we stand as we enjoy our only January storm? This rain brings an end to Sacramento's record-setting stretch of 52 consecutive days without winter rain.
While the rain is good news, California still needs an additional 23 inches just to get back to a normal rain season. State surveyors checking California's snowpack today say a recent storm brought little help, but that snow levels in the Sierra Nevada are dangerously low. California's Department of Water Resources says the state's snowpack is at 12% of normal for this time of winter. The northern and central Sierra snowpack provides about a third of California's water supply.
Things have reached the point that President Obama is getting updates on California's drought. The President called Governor Jerry Brown yesterday to express his concern.
Brown met with water managers from across Southern California today as the state grapples with extreme drought.
"Make no mistake, this drought is a big wakeup call and a reminder that we do depend on natural systems," said the Governor.
Brown says in the short term he is working to get federal funding and for the long term, he says he's working for a longterm set of investments.
Despite the winter storm, the people who measure the drought in California say it's expanding. Interior California is still in an extreme drought category, a D3 condition, but National Weather Service meterologist Michelle Mead says drought conditions are going critical in other areas.
"Locations along the coast and in the western San Joaquin Valley have been upgraded to exceptional drought, which is characterized as a D4," Mead said.
The drought monitor doesn't get any worse than that but, it is possible the rainy season could run late.
"We had one of those systems move through in June of last year," Mead said.
That's why there's hope of catching up on the rain this year.
Senate Republicans are out with a plan that they say will help solve California's water woes. Senators Anthony Canella of Ceres and Andy Vidak of Hanford have unveiled a proposal to put a $9.2 billion water bond on the ballot,
"As the Governor mentioned in the State of the State, we must have more storage," said Senator Cannella.
He continued to say that the bond also prioritizes clean drinking water for outlying communities that still don't have it,
"Water is life. It's food, and it's jobs," emphasized Canella.
Senator Vidak says the bill pares down a 2009 measure that never made it to voters over concerns it contained too many pet projects.
Two Democrats are also working on their own proposals that would cost less than the original measure.