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California’s Droughts: Past and Present

Although weather conditions constantly change, drought has been a recurring certainty in California’s climate for thousands of years as revealed by tree rings and geological records. The Department of water Resources has issued a new report, “California’s Most Significant Droughts: Comparing Historical and Recent Conditions,” with a wealth of information about California’s climate and lessons learned from previous droughts that may have a bearing on how Californians cope with the current drought.

The report was prepared by Jeanine Jones, DWR Deputy Drought Manager and Interstate Resources Manager. It compares the severity and impacts of California’s most significant droughts – 1929 to 1934, 1976 to 1977 and 1987 to 1992 – and also details the ongoing drought, which began in 2012.

The report covers a wide range of issues and highlights the need for better data about groundwater conditions, improved drought prediction capability and better drought preparedness for small water systems as California’s climate changes to drier and warmer conditions. The “California’s Most Significant Droughts” report can be accessed here.

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