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Regional Drought Update Date
November 17, 2022
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Drought Status Update

California-Nevada Drought Status Update


DEWS Regions:
States:
Update Status:

NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought status updates as conditions evolve.

Little Change in Drought Conditions Early in the Water Year

Register here for the November 28 California-Nevada Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar.

 

Key Points

  • The water year started with a dry October and a storm system in early November which wet the landscape. 
  • Reservoirs throughout the region remain low, and Lake Tahoe is below the rim. 
  • There is a 76% chance of La Niña during December through February. Historically La Niña decreases the likelihood of a wet winter for Southern California and Southern Nevada.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions | November 15, 2022

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts’ assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year. 

California/Nevada conditions as of November 15, 2022:

  • 99.48% of California is experiencing Moderate (D1) to Exceptional (D4) Drought (28.18% in D3, 12.73% in D4)
  • California population in drought: 37,231,428
  • 100% of Nevada is experiencing Moderate (D1) to Exceptional (D4) Drought (43.37% in D3, 0% in D4)
  • Nevada population in drought: 2,700,550
U.S. Drought Monitor Categories
Value Map Hex Color
D0 - Abnormally Dry #ffff00
D1 - Moderate Drought #ffcc99
D2 - Severe Drought #f5ad3d
D3 - Extreme Drought #ff0000
D4 - Exceptional Drought #660000
Main Stats
99.69%
of California and Nevada are in drought (D1–D4)
40.92%
of California is in extreme (D3) to exceptional (D4) drought
43.37%
of Nevada is in extreme (D3) drought

Current Conditions

  • According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, over the last month drought conditions have not changed very much. There was little to no precipitation through the region in October, which was broken by a system of storms in early November. Through October, this calendar year (January–October) has been California’s driest and Nevada’s 8th driest in a 127-year record. 
  • California is at 8.5% of the average water year precipitation. Regionally San Diego is at 21% of the average water year precipitation, while the Reno/Carson City area is below 6% of the average water year total. 
  • In Nevada, Lake Tahoe remains below the rim, and Rye Patch and Lahontan Reservoirs are still low. In California, Shasta and Oroville, the two largest reservoirs, are at 57% of the historical average
  • For more information, check out Living with Drought in Nevada and the California Water Watch.

How is drought affecting your neighborhood? Click to see drought indicators, outlooks, and historical conditions by city, county, and state, as well as sign up for alerts.

View local drought information

U.S. Drought Monitor 4-Week Change Map

From October 18 to November 15, 2022, much of California-Nevada has seen no change in drought conditions, aside from a few pockets of 1-category improvements or degradations.
U.S. Drought Monitor 4-week change map, showing where drought has improved, degraded, or remained the same from October 18–November 15, 2022). Source: National Drought Mitigation Center.

Water Year 2023 Percent of Normal Precipitation

Eastern Nevada and much of Southern California show 150% of precipitation for water year 2023 so far. Eastern Sierra Nevada is less than 50% and parts of Northern California have also received below-normal precipitation.
Percent of normal precipitation since the start of Water Year 2023 (October 1, 2022–November 14, 2022). Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

October 2022 Total Precipitation (Inches)

Almost all of Nevada and California received less than 1 inch of precipitation in October 2022.
Total precipitation (inches) in October 2022 throughout California and Nevada. Source: Climate Toolbox.

Precipitation Totals (Inches) for November 7–9, 2022

Much of California and Nevada received precipitation from November 7 - 9, 2022, with totals greater than 2 inches along the Sierra Nevada and parts of coastal California.
Three-day precipitation totals (inches) for November 7–9, 2022. Source: California Nevada River Forecast Center.

Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) Change for November 7–9, 2022

From November 7 to 9, many stations across California and Nevada saw an increase in snow water equivalent.
Change in snow water equivalent (SWE) in inches from November 7–9, 2022. Numbers indicate the change in SWE during this three-day period at specific stations. Source: California Nevada River Forecast Center

Water Storage in Lake Tahoe: Water Years 2020–2022

Lake Tahoe dipped below the rim in October 2022, and and after increasing above the rim during Water Year 2022, it dipped below the rim in mid-October and remains below the rim.
Water stored in Lake Tahoe from the start of the 2020 Water Year (Oct. 1, 2019) from the CNAP 2020–2021 Drought Years Reservoir Tracker (visit to see similar graphics and more for 11 major California/Nevada reservoirs).

Water Storage in 9 Feather Watershed Reservoirs + Snowpack

In the Feather system, the total water storage (reservoir plus snow) is about two-thirds of the historical total for this time of year.
CNAP Water Storage Tracking comparing current below-normal reservoir and snowpack in the 9 Feather watershed reservoirs to 1985–2010 normals through the end of Water Year 2023. Source: California-Nevada Adaptation Program (CNAP).

Drought and Climate Outlook

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

NOAA’s ENSO alert system status is currently a La Niña Advisory. There is a 76% chance of La Niña during the Northern Hemisphere winter (December–February) 2022–23, with a 57% chance for ENSO-neutral in February–April 2023. For more information, check out the NOAA ENSO blog or current status presentation and how La Niña impacts the Western U.S.

Subseasonal to Seasonal Drought, Temperature, and Precipitation Outlooks

The late autumn and early winter months are a highly transitional time of year, as the wet season begins to ramp up along the West Coast. The next one-to-three month forecast shows drought persisting across California and the Great Basin, given the La Niña advisory. However, an increasingly wet climatology through the late fall and early winter favors improvement across parts of Oregon, Washington, and coastal northern California. Historically, La Niña is associated with dry to normal conditions in the southern part of California and Nevada. The December-January-February outlook from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center also favors above-normal temperatures for the region. In the near term (1–2 weeks), there may be some atmospheric river activity in the very northern parts of the region, but this remains uncertain.

Seasonal Drought Outlook: November 17, 2022–February 28, 2023

From November 17, 2022 to February 28, 2023, drought is likely to persist across much of California and Nevada, with drought improvement or removal predicted in far-northern California.
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for November 17, 2022 to February 28, 2023, showing the likelihood that drought will develop, remain, improve, or be removed. Source: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Seasonal (3-Month) Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

For December 2022 to February 2023, odds slightly favor above-normal temperatures across southern to central California and Nevada, with equal chances of above- or below-normal temperatures in the rest of the region.

From December 2022 to February 2023, odds favor below-normal precipitation for southern to central California and far-southern Nevada, with equal chances of above- or below-normal precipitation in the rest of the region.
U.S. seasonal temperature (top) and precipitation (bottom) outlooks, showing the likelihood of above- or below-normal conditions for December 2022–February 2023. Source: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Likelihood and Timing of Atmospheric River Conditions

In the near term (1-2 weeks), there may be some atmospheric river activity in the very northern parts of the region, but this remains uncertain.
The CW3E Atmospheric River (AR) Landfall Tool displays the likelihood and timing of AR conditions (here IVT>250 kg/(ms)) at each point on the map in a line along the West Coast of North America or inland, derived from either the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System or the ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System.  Source: Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E).

Drought Early Warning Resources

California

Nevada

California-Nevada DEWS

Prepared By

Julie Kalansky
Program Manager, California-Nevada Adaptation Program (A NOAA CAP/RISA team)

Special Thanks

This drought status update is issued in partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the California-Nevada Adaptation Program, a NOAA CAP/RISA team, and the Western Regional Climate Center at the Desert Research Institute to communicate the current state of drought conditions in California-Nevada based on recent conditions and the upcoming forecast. NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought status updates as conditions evolve.