Drone photos show significantly higher California reservoirs
- US News
- March 17, 2023
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Winter storms across California greatly improved drought conditions, filling state reservoirs that were at less than a third of their capacity.
Drone photos from the California Department of Water Resources show the difference in a recent series of storms caused by 11 atmospheric flows.
The image below shows Lake Oroville in Butte County, California’s second largest reservoir. The first picture was taken on December 21st. The second image was taken on January 12 after several storms began to refill the reservoir. The last image was taken on March 8th and shows a dramatic improvement in water levels.
In the first image, the lake was only 29% of its capacity. In the second image, the level had risen to 51%. And the third photo was up to 75%.
The water level of Lake Oroville rose steadily with every storm that passed through California that winter.
(Ken James; Andrew Innerarity; Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources)
Lake Oroville was 80% full Tuesday, according to the Times drought tracker. The historical average for that day – March 14 – has been 71% over the last 30 years.
Nearly 100 miles south of Lake Oroville, Folsom Lake was exceptionally dry in November. When the photo below was taken, the lake was at 27% of its capacity.
A November 2022 image shows low water conditions around Granite Bay Main Beach on Folsom Lake in Placer County when the reservoir was 259,754 acre feet.
(Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources)
By March 10, the Folsom Dam was full enough that the Bureau of Reclamation discharged water into the American River via its auxiliary spillway to control water levels.
An aerial view of Folsom Dam on March 10th.
(Jonathan Wong / California Department of Water Resources)
As of Tuesday, Folsom Lake was at 63% of its capacity, which is in line with historical average levels.
The winter storms have eased drought conditions across the state, prompting authorities to lift mandatory water restrictions for millions of Southern California residents.