Nearly 100 years ago, Dust Bowl refugees from the middle of the country sought new lives and livelihoods in the Golden State. Now California is fixing to become its own damn dust bowl. The last two months in the northern Sierra Nevada, normally the wettest time of the year, have shattered an all-time weather record as the driest January and February in recorded history.
The northern Sierra is crucial to statewide water supplies because it is where snowmelt accumulates to fill Shasta and Oroville reservoirs. These are the largest reservoirs in California and the primary storage points for state and federal water supply systems.
If February concludes without additional storms -- and none are expected -- the northern Sierra will have seen 2.2 inches of precipitation in January and February, the least since record-keeping began in the region in 1921.
That is well below the historical average of 17.1 inches.