Parts of California received record-breaking rainfall over the past week, but “it’s too early to tell” how much impact that will have on the current drought, says UC Davis professor Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences.

Precipitation totals were as much as one-half the total received in all of last year (a water year runs October to September), he said. While last year was dry, the rain event also can be measured as about 20% of the average annual rainfall. “That’s appreciable,” Lund said. Reservoirs that were dangerously low will now stop losing water and begin gaining it, he said, and water that percolates through sandy soils will help with groundwater recharge.

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But Lund said the major storm after so many dry months “illustrates very well” how the climate in the west, and California in particular, has “lots of wet and lots of dry.” He added that it is “not inconceivable” to have storms and flooding in the middle of a drought and this is only the very beginning of the wet season.

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