Water level charts shared online show an impressive redemption story for Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville in northern California.
California’s drought situation has reversed from this time last year, when 97 percent of the state was battling severe drought. Now, nearly 94 percent of the Golden State is completely free from drought, according to a map by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Heavy precipitation over the winter—including a dozen atmospheric rivers unleashing heavy rainfall on the state—drastically supplemented some of California’s reservoirs. Tropical storm Hilary also made an impact after it made landfall in California earlier this month.
Now, two of California’s “zombie lakes” have come back to life with their impressive water levels, according to a report by climate website The Cool Down.
The lakes had all but vanished last year (hence the term “zombie lake”), but they have since made an impressive recovery according to charts shared by lakesonline.com and a graphic by the California Department of Water Resources.
Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville water levels have since started to recede, but both are still far higher than they were at this time last year.
As of September 1, Lake Shasta was just over 1,029 feet. That’s a more than 30-foot decrease from its high point earlier this summer, but the level is an astounding 93 feet higher than September 1, 2022, levels, according to a chart by lakesonline.com.
The lake is at 78 percent capacity, which is 129 percent of its historical average, according to a website by the California Department of Water Resources. Last year, the lake was only 35 percent full, according to The Cool Down.
Lake Oroville tells a similar story. On September 1, Lake Oroville levels were just over 854 feet according to the lakesonline.com chart. The lake has dropped more than 40 feet since its high point earlier this summer, but it is still nearly 150 feet higher than it was on September 1, 2022.
Lake Oroville is at 81 percent capacity, which is 139 percent of its historical average. A photo was shared widely on social media earlier this year, in which Lake Oroville’s 2023 levels were compared to 2021. The lake resembled a dry valley in 2021, but the water levels were much higher in the 2023 photo.
However, the lakes are both expected to continue their downward trend through the fall, AccuWeather meteorologist Isaac Longley told Newsweek.
“We are expecting generally dry and warm conditions across much of California,” Longley said, adding that the conditions will likely remain that way through November.
Temperatures are forecast at 1 to 2 degrees above the historical average for the fall season.
“There will be a drop in water levels as we head into the winter season,” Longley said.
Despite the relief at seeing the replenished lakes, one study found that sudden shifts from drought conditions to heavy floods are becoming more common in the U.S. because of climate change. Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts and heat waves are expected to become more severe as the climate changes.
The post Chart Shows Dramatic Change in California’s ‘Zombie Lakes’ Water Levels appeared first on Newsweek.