Worst drought in California history? Not really…

A little needed perspective on California’s drought.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Robert Moore

The progression of the Palmer Drought Severity Index for California over the past three years. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor The progression of the Palmer Drought Severity Index for California over the past three years. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

Is it true that we are in the worst drought in California history? Let’s look at the facts for the last 120 years (1895 to present).

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As shown in this chart from the Western Regional Climate Center website (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu) — this is not even the 2nd driest water year for California in the last 120 years.

The driest year was 1924 (9.23 inches, or 40% of normal). The current water year (October 2013 through September 2014) ranks as the 3rd driest in the last 120 years (at 52% of normal).

As for the claim that this is the worst multi-year drought in California history – look at the period of 1910-40 on the WRCC chart. Wow… that was really a dry 30 year period.

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