Is the California drought over? No

SACRAMENTO — The question gurgles up from every storm drain and creek in California: Is the drought over? The simple answer is no. The reasons are not so simple.

Two weeks of heavy rain and snow, nice as it is, cannot erase three years of drought statewide.

For starters, California's largest reservoirs are far from full. This includes Shasta, Oroville and Folsom, all vital storage points for state and federal water supply canals.

These reservoirs likely won't fill completely with the snowpack on the ground now, especially if there is no more of it by April 1.

"Until we get the reservoirs back to normal and see a normal to slightly above normal spring snowmelt coming, it would be perilous to suggest the drought is over," said Rob Hartman, hydrologist in charge at the California Nevada River Forecast Center, an arm of the National Weather Service in Sacramento. "There's a lot of winter yet to go, and anything could happen."

Beyond that, and despite the state's economic woes, California keeps growing. That means ever-greater water demand, which each year pushes salvation from drought further away.

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