The reality is that the drought is far from over and its effects will be far reaching: a recent survey has found that at least 66 million trees have died in the Sierra Nevada alone as a result of the now five year-long drought, portending a potentially catastrophic fire season ahead. The El Nino of this past year (which only brought a normal season of rain and snowfall) has transitioned to a La Nina pattern which may portend a drier than average winter this year and next (although not necessarily, see Jan Null’s excellent analysis of the affect La Nina has on U.S. precipitation anomalies here. Even if the coming winters bring normal precipitation to California, water conservation will remain necessary for the foreseeable future as the state’s population continues to grow and the aquifers in the Central Valley continue to drop. Furthermore, as this Stanford University report published last year points out, warming temperatures as a result of AGW are likely to increase the frequency and intensity of drought impacts in California going into the future. Even if precipitation is normal the warming temperatures are likely to result in diminished snow accumulations in the Sierra Nevada with earlier spring melts thus also diminishing the state’s so-called ‘water bank’.
Source: Christopher C. Burt, WunderBlog, Weather Underground, June 30, 2016