Is our drought over?

20 Feb

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With our intense rainfall over the long holiday weekend, the question remains as to whether or not we can stop worrying about drought.  The short answer is nope.

The long answer requires looking at some data.  First of all, I found an amazing website called US Drought Monitor.  Wondering if there’s a drought anywhere in the US?  Wonder no more . . . every week, they analyze the country and determine the drought status of every region.  They have a great map and a code.  My region in California is currently in a D1 (Drought Moderate) but we’re surrounded by D2 (Drought Severe).  One storm changed my area from D1 to D2.  Hopefully, we’ll continue with slightly higher than normal rainfall for the rest of the season and pull out of the fear of drought altogether.

Using data from our Water District’s historical record, I used figured out the Mean, Median, Mode, and Range (just like I teach the kids at school).  I didn’t use all the data — just the data since 1975.  The mean (average) is 52″.  The median (put all the data in order from least to greatest and find the middle number) is 46″.  The mode (most common — after I rounded the numbers so that any of them were common) is 50″.  Our range for Boulder Creek is 20″ to 100″.

When I first talked about the lack of rain, we were at around 15″ for the year which is frighteningly low especially since we had received almost no rain in the month of January which is typically one of our heaviest rainfall years.  We are now at 28″ for the year and more rain is coming.  This is very hopeful.

The problem is that even if we make it up to our normal rainfall, we haven’t hit that normal mark in the last two years.  Last year, we had 40″, the year before that 30″.  So, we are making up a deficit.  Our reservoirs are frighteningly low.  One year of normal rainfall won’t fix that.

So, no, not really.  We’re in much better shape but we need a few more storms like that one before we’ll feel safe.  Still, it’s looking like I’ll be able to water my garden this summer which is a good thing!

Spring Dress

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4 Responses to “Is our drought over?”

  1. KGMom 20 February, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    Liza Lee–Great lesson–on drought, and on mean, median and mode! I enjoyed it.

    And, I loved the drought monitoring website–I added it to my science source sites. Interesting to see that all of Pennsylvania right now is not in a drought. We have had our times recently, so this site will let me monitor where we stand.

    Hope it keeps raining for you!

    • Liza Lee Miller 20 February, 2009 at 6:33 am #

      Thanks, KGMom. We are due for more rain this weekend. They keep downgrading us though. First it was due to be a storm on Friday and last all weekend. Now, it’s going to rain some on Sunday and go back to nice weather on Monday. Weird. Still every little bit helps! I thought that Drought Monitoring site was pretty cool, too.

  2. Phyllis 20 February, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Nice site! Looks like Sacramento County is 1/3 in the D3 extreme drought area, with the rest in D2. We haven’t even caught up with rain from this month, much less all we’re behind for the rest of this fall and winter. And for the last 2 years… Well, it’s supposed to rain again this weekend and into next week. Fingers crossed!

  3. mon@rch 22 February, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    I have been hoping that our drought situation ends although here in WNY we have not been that bad with our rain.

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