Rain poured down in California on Tuesday — giving the San Francisco Bay area its fifth-wettest day since 2009 and breaking a Dec. 2 record set in 1961 in Los Angeles — but the much-needed rainfall barely put a dent in the historic drought that has plagued the state.
The storm also wrought havoc on the parched region, prompting residents to blockade debris flows and prepare to evacuate.
The lengthy drought has hampered boating and other outdoor recreational activities in the state. At the end of August, the last paved launch ramp to put boats in at Lake Oroville, at Bidwell Canyon, was closed as the lake dropped to near 70 percent empty.
Officials extended two ramps with gravel so the public could continue accessing Lake Oroville. Stevens Creek and Lexington reservoirs were closed to boating and eight other lakes also were closed to boating.
The rain is helpful, but substantially more is needed to ease the drought. “The three-season deficit for San Francisco at the beginning of the rainfall season was 26.07 inches,” Null said. “If you add that to the 23.65 inches needed for this season to ultimately reach normal, we would need 49.73 inches to be at normal.”
“The season’s biggest rainstorm is lashing Southern California, bringing down power lines, flooding residential streets and closing park trails,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the National Weather Service, 1.5 inches of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles, breaking a Dec. 2 record set in 1961. Records for Dec. 2 also were set in other places, including Los Angeles International Airport, Oxnard, Long Beach Airport, Lancaster and Palmdale.
The stream of subtropical moisture dropped more than an inch of rain over much of Los Angeles County by evening, with higher numbers in the local mountains, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In Camarillo, gushing mud and water prompted a mandatory evacuation of 75 homes where a slide had buried a home on Halloween. In Glendora and Azusa, homeowners and fire crews worked to buttress sandbags with plywood and concrete blocks. Rockslides hit the road in Malibu Canyon, and in Silverado Canyon residents moved horses and other large livestock to lower, flatter terrain.
However, the storm gave state water officials the first glimmer of hope in more than a year. On Monday, they increased 2015 water allocations in response to improving precipitation forecasts.
Lake Oroville — the keystone reservoir of the California State Water Project, which delivers water from Northern California south — took in 5 billion gallons during the last 10 days, officials said. Still, that is less than 1 percent of its capacity.
State water experts said it would take 150 percent of the average rainfall for California to recover from the current drought. That would mean a total of 75 inches of rain from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, recorded at eight stations in the northern Sierra.