Late afternoon sunlight streaks through the oak trees along the trail at Whitney Canyon on Feb. 15, 2017. Katharine Lotze/Signal
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Consistent storms across California this year have helped improve drought conditions and bring above-average downpours to cities throughout the state.

According to the Western Regional Climate Center, rainfall since Oct. 1, 2016—the beginning of the water year—is 120 percent to 200 percent of normal in regions across California.

The heavy rainfall is a sign of relief for drought conditions throughout the state, which have continued to improve in 2017, according to weekly reports from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Storms continued to drop heavy precipitation over parts of California, leading to widespread improvements of the multi-year drought in the state, although some pockets have missed out on the precipitation and water restrictions remain due to low reservoir levels,” the Feb. 14 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor read.

In Santa Clarita Valley, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that conditions in the area improved from exceptional drought and extreme drought Jan. 17 to moderate drought conditions Feb. 14.

High dynamic range settings helped to capture the falls in Whitney Canyon on Feb. 15, 2017. Katharine Lotze/Signal

The latest National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal drought outlook, valid from Feb. 16 to May 31, “shows drought in Southern California likely to resolve.”

However, the National Weather Service (NWS) said that although the rainfall is making an impact on the state’s reservoirs and snowpack, the storms have not made up for the state’s five-year drought and rainfall deficits.

“Many droughts take more than one wet season to recover,” the NWS said.

NWS Weather Specialist Stuart Seto said despite the increase in reservoir levels, most are still below capacity.

“We have been in a drought for five years so,” Seto said.  “Most of the reservoirs are below capacity.”

Locally, Castaic Lake is currently at 93 percent total capacity of 325,000 acre-feet.  The historical average for the reservoir is 108 percent.

In total for this season, the NWS recorded 14.49 inches of rain in Del Valle near Val Verde, 15.39 inches of rain in Newhall and 8.62 inches of rain in Castaic, as of Feb. 14.  The NWS did not have recorded rain totals for the Saugus station this year.

These totals were recorded before Friday’s storm brought 4.00 inches to Del Valle and 3.98 inches to Newhall, and Monday’s storm brought 0.10 inches to Del Valle and 0.08 inches to Newhall.

Michelle Breckner, a service climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center, said that Santa Clarita received 15.61 inches of rain, Canyon Country received 14.38 inches of rain and Piru received 19.58 inches of rain for the water year according to her agency’s calculations.

Seto said rain is anticipated to return to Santa Clarita this weekend, but the NWS is uncertain how many inches will fall.

“We are supposed to get some more (rain) Sunday into Monday and at this time they still aren’t sure how much,” he said.  “The maps are changing rapidly.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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Christina Cox
Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.
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