Moving into April means the end of the state’s rainy season — and hope of improving drought conditions.
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Today marks the final day of California’s rainy season.
December, January and February are typically the wettest months in the Golden State, with 75 percent of the state’s annual precipitation falling between November and March.
Now we’re about to enter our dry season, and the drought is nowhere near over. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, in an attempt to curb water usage, proposed banning businesses from watering their lawns. More than 93 percent of California is considered to be in severe or extreme drought.
“We are definitely very much at the tail end of our wet season in California,” Jeanine Jones, drought manager with the California Department of Water Resources, told me. “We are not expecting any significant amount of additional precipitation — certainly not something that would make any difference for the drought.”
Jones added: “In other words, most of what we’re going to get, we have gotten.”
So where does that leave us?
All of California’s major reservoirs are currently at below-average levels. The state’s snowpack on Wednesday was a dismal 39 percent of what it typically is this time of year, according to state data. Newsom hasn’t yet announced mandatory water cuts for Californians but faces increasing pressure to do so.
The water year in California runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 and is defined that way so that the winter rainy season falls within a single water year.
Between October and December — the start of this water year — California received more rainfall than it had over the previous 12 months. Atmospheric rivers shattered records and replenished reservoirs.
But then we entered 2022. January and February represented the driest two-month start to a year on record in California, according to state officials. March is unlikely to be much better, even after this week’s storms.
The whiplash isn’t unusual in the Golden State; we have more climate variability than any other state in the nation, Jones said. And the weather has recently become even more unpredictable because of the effects of climate change.
Still, the heavy rains from the end of 2021 were not enough to overcome the past three exceptionally dry months.
At the end of December, the state had received 150 percent of the precipitation it typically has at that point in the water year. That figure has since dropped to below average — to roughly 70 percent.
Unfortunately, with March coming to a close and no storms on the horizon, we can say with near certainty that California’s drought in 2022 will keep getting worse.
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At least a thousand years ago, the Cahuilla Indians regularly walked a long, winding trail in the mountains above the Coachella Valley.
The path, through a landscape of remote peaks and natural springs, was used to visit relatives from other Native villages and to attend ceremonies. When important messages need to be relayed, runners would jog sections of the 30-mile trail in just hours.
But until recently, many Cahuilla had not stepped foot on the ancestral route in more than a century.
This month, tribal members representing Agua Caliente, the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians and the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians hiked and camped for three days along the ancient trail, The Desert Sun reports.
“When I walk this trail, I walk it for my family,” said Mario Alejandre, a member of the Santa Rosa tribe and the Sawish-pakiktem clan. “We walk this trail because our ancestors walked it before us. This was sanctuary. This was heaven.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Shalom : Hebrew :: ___ : Hawaiian (5 letters).
Briana Scalia and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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