Winter storms across California dramatically improved drought conditions and filled reservoirs across the state that held less than a third of their capacity.
Drone photos from the California Department of Water Resources show how much of a difference a recent series of storms, brought on by 11 atmospheric rivers, made.
The image below shows Lake Oroville in Butte County, the second largest reservoir in California. The first image was taken on December 21. The second image was taken on January 12, after several storms began to fill the reservoir. The last image was taken on March 8 and shows a dramatic improvement in water levels.
In the first image, the lake was only at 29% capacity. In the second image, the level had jumped to 51%. And in the third photo, the figure was 75%.
According to the Times drought tracker, Lake Oroville was 80% full on Tuesday. The historical average level for this day – March 14 – was 71% over the past 30 years.
Nearly 100 miles south of Lake Oroville, Lake Folsom was exceptionally dry in November. When the photo below was taken, the lake was at 27% capacity.
On March 10, Folsom Dam was full enough for the Bureau of Reclamation to release water through its auxiliary spillway into the American River to manage water levels.
On Tuesday, Folsom Lake was at 63% capacity, in line with the historic average level.
Winter storms eased drought conditions across the state and prompted officials to lift mandatory water restrictions for millions of Southern California residents.