The 2015 water year has been a roller coaster ride, with a very dry January tucked in between big storms in December and early February in Northern California. The hydrologic cycle in California has always been unpredictable, with widely fluctuating wet years and dry years, while average years only exist as part of a statistical analysis on paper. This year is no different, except that California is in the midst of a very dry decade and the public is now focused and some say obsessed with weather and the various forecasts. Now is a good time to take stock of this dynamic and remind ourselves that we need to prepare, but not overreact.
We are now in the middle of February–there are still several months left in the precipitation season, which we know from experience can bring large doses of water in a small amount of time. (See graph below.) Water resources managers are accustomed to preparing for every type of year, knowing there are many forces that are out of their control, largely the weather and availability of water. Let’s learn from water resources managers. We need to be diligent in preparing for different scenarios, depending on the timing and location of precipitation over the next several months. We do not, however, need for policy makers and others to over-react and take any brash actions that will only destabilize our economy and the environment in California. Instead, we need measured and thoughtful approaches as we prepare for the rest of this year.