California’s rainfall is at historic lows. That spells trouble for wildfires and farms


Precipitation fills reservoirs, limits fire danger and feeds important crops. But the state has seen only 30% to 70% of what it would expect

There’s a race on in California, and each day matters: the precipitation during winter that fuels the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas and fills groundwater supplies has been slow to start, and faltering at best.

Northern California remains stuck in one of the worst two-year rainfall deficits seen since the 1849 Gold Rush, increasing the risk of water restrictions and potentially setting up dangerous wildfire conditions next summer. The current precipitation is only 30% to 70% of what the state would expect to have seen during a normal year – with no more big rainfall events on the horizon for February.

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