Image of the Week - Dry Spell Depletes Northern California Reservoirs

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A prolonged dry spell has sparked woes over water availability and wildfire in the western United States.

This stretch of northern California is heavily reliant on man-made reservoirs. The recent history of a single Landsat scene can serve to illustrate the ripple effects of those severely parched conditions. Water levels have dropped in Folsom Lake, Indian Valley Reservoir, Black Butte Lake, where many fields have been left fallow, and Lake Oroville, which is home to the tallest dam in the United States at 770 feet. Each reservoir across this scene's 114 square miles has a wider shoreline today than it did in 2017, the last year with significant precipitation, most of which arrives in the winter and spring each year. Precipitation is more than 8 inches below normal for 2021, a rough start after a 2020 that ended more than 13 inches less than normal. The 2021 imagery shows evidence of another dry weather worry: large wildfires. The Bear Fire left a charred landscape in the fall of 2020, and scars surround a depleted Lake Berryessa.

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Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:27

Location Taken: CA, US

Transcript

A prolonged dry spell has sparked woes over water availability and wildfire in the western United States. 

This stretch of northern California is heavily reliant on man-made reservoirs. The recent history of a single Landsat scene can serve to illustrate the ripple effects of those severely parched conditions. Water levels have dropped in Folsom Lake, Indian Valley Reservoir, Black Butte Lake, where many fields have been left fallow, and Lake Oroville, which is home to the tallest dam in the United States at 770 feet. Each reservoir across this scene's 114 square miles has a wider shoreline today than it did in 2017, the last year with significant precipitation, most of which arrives in the winter and spring each year. Precipitation is more than 8 inches below normal for 2021, a rough start after a 2020 that ended more than 13 inches less than normal. The 2021 imagery shows evidence of another dry weather worry: large wildfires. The Bear Fire left a charred landscape in the fall of 2020, and scars surround a depleted Lake Berryessa.