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Sacramento reaches grim milestone not seen in 100+ years

By Elizabeth Klinge

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KOVR) — Thursday marked the end of the official water year for weather forecasters, and with no rain in sight, Sacramento is about to break a record that dates back more than a century.

The city is hitting a grim meteorological milestone. Cory Mueller with the National Weather Service says it’s been more than six months since downtown Sacramento saw any measurable rain, breaking the previous record set way back in 1880.

“It’s very unusual to not see precipitation for that long of a time, even out here in California where it’s normally dry for three months out of the year,” Mueller said.

And this water year—which traditionally ends on September 30—has been anything but average.

So just how bad is the current drought? Sacramento’s average rainfall is just over 19-inches a year.

But in 2020, we got less than 11 inches.

And this year was even worse with less than 8 inches—only 43% of normal.

“That’s the big thing about Northern California—it’s very normal to not see normal precipitation,” Mueller said.

That’s why water officials are continuing to call for conservation. They say some simple changes can really add up.

“Just skip a day of irrigation,” one official said. “So let’s say you water three days a week. Try watering two days a week.”

Many people are now hoping for a wet winter to replenish our reservoirs, like Folsom Lake, which is currently at 24% of capacity and Lake Oroville at 22%.

“Water managers are concerned about the forecast given how little reservoirs are. If there’s not a lot of rain and snow this winter, managing water supplies will continue to be challenging,” one official said.

It’s a challenge that could lead to even greater water restrictions.

This record will continue to grow as forecasters say there’s no rain expected this weekend and into next week. On Thursday, however, there is a slight chance of rain.

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