Lake Oroville currently looks more like a meandering stream than the largest water storage reservoir (3.5 million acre feet of capacity) in the State Water Project system. Even with additional water from recent storms, the water level was at just 57 percent of normal and 39 percent capacity as of late February.
Even with the much needed precipitation from recent storms, at just 29 percent of capacity and 54 percent of historical average, Folsom Lake is still below its historic lows during the 1976-77 drought. Not surprising, since the region had not seen any measurable rainfall for most of December and January, putting an exclamation point on the fact that 2013 was California’s driest year on record.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize, as the image comparison above clearly shows, that California’s current snowpack is virtually non-existent. Statewide, the Sierra snowpack was at just 12 percent of average for the January 30 snowpack survey. This was the smallest snowpack ever recorded on this date. With the vast majority of California’s precipitation historically arriving in December, January and February, almost two thirds of the opportunities for snowfall have already passed.