Are we safe from a drought this year? Here's what we know so far.

Feb 6, 2019 at 9:00am

SF Gate by Amy Graff

The rain and even a bit of snow keep on coming.

Except for a 10-day dry spell at the end of January, the San Francisco Bay Area has seen a series of drenching winter storms that have watered gardens, fueled waterfalls, recharged reservoirs, and diminished the possibility of the ever-dreaded drought.

In fact, all of California has been slammed with an onslaught of unsettled weather unleashing heavy snow and rain. There are some areas in Southern California such as Ventura and Kern counties where more rain has fallen in the past week than in all of last year.

The plentiful water is reflected in key indicators used to gauge drought — including snowpack and reservoir levels — that are showing the state and the Bay Area are well-equipped with water. And drought watchers who are notoriously cautious about declaring California safe from a water shortage don't seem to be issuing the typical warnings they do in drier years.

"What we're concentrating on is the snowpack, precipitation and reservoir levels, and right now, it's looking good," says Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for the California Department of Water Resources. "As long as we stay on this track and cold storms keep coming down from the Gulf of Alaska, we'll be in good shape. Of course, it could all change in a week, and we need to make conservation a way of life in California. Even though it's raining now, it doesn't mean we need to stop conserving."

The federal government's U.S. Drought Monitor map is one measurement for drought that's mainly used in agriculture, and the latest iteration released Jan. 31 reveals a mixture of "no drought" and "abnormally dry" conditions throughout the Bay Area. Only a week prior, the map showed "moderate drought" and "abnormally dry."

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