Shasta Lake, one of the state’s largest reservoirs, is currently at 38% capacity, a startling number heading into the hottest months of the year.
Part of the State Water Project, a roughly 700-mile lifeline that pumps and ferries water all the way to Southern California, the reservoir is the driest it has been at this time of year since record-keeping first began in 1976.
California relies on storms and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada to fill its reservoirs.The state received a hopeful sign of a wet winter in late December when more than 17 feet of snow fell in the Sierra Nevada. But the winter storms abruptly ceased, ushering in the driest January, February and March ever recorded. The snowpack — a critical “bank” of water for the state going into the summer — has melted much faster than expected because of warmer-than-average temperatures.