As 2021 comes to a close, the Bay Area experienced one final storm to head into the new year
By Kamryn Sobel
Northern California was hit by an atmospheric river on December 13th, 2021, but what does this mean for California’s drought?
Over the course of this storm, several locations within the Bay Area reported between 5 to 9 inches of rain, while nearly 10 feet of snow stretched across the Sierra. Locally, Mount Diablo experienced snowfall as a result of the atmospheric river, coming to a total of 5.6 inches between rain and snow. The storm caused much havoc across northern California due to high levels of precipitation, however, Andrew Schwartz from The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab stated that despite the snowfall being, “above average for this point in winter…we’re going to need a lot more to pull us out of the drought.”
Parts of the Bay Area that were previously scorched with fire were told to be prepared to evacuate, as burn scar areas showed a threat of landslides. Road closures also took into effect throughout Northern California, including Sonoma County, San Jose, Berkeley, and Half Moon Bay due to the flooded and icy roads as they were a hazard to those traveling in these areas. According to the California Department of Water Resources, “more than half of California’s Water Years since 2000 have been dry or drought years, contributing to less water in the system and creating increased risk for impacts such as devastating wildfire seasons.” In Northern California’s reservoirs, data from the California Department of Water Resources showed that they were still drier for this time of year. They concluded that, “it is crucial that we get rain and snow during those months to truly ease drought impacts.”
A week after the atmospheric river drenched the Bay Area, parts of the Sierra were confronted by whiteout conditions. Similar to the previous storm, major roads to Lake Tahoe were closed, cars lost control of the wheel, and many ski resorts were forced to close. With record-breaking weather conditions, California still faces an ongoing process of relieving its drought.
Ryan Ford '23,