A series of big storms sending much-needed rain and snow to Northern California has dramatically replenished a drought-stricken reservoir that was on the brink of disaster. Thanks, El Niño!


Like Folsom Lake, which I profiled in depth (um, shallowness) last summer, Lake Oroville is one of those reservoirs you probably know quite well from photos. Dramatic images of sediment-ringed banks and boat docks resting on the dusty lakebed made national headlines, like a drone video that was featured on NBC Nightly News in May of 2015.

Lake Oroville on July 20, 2011 (photo by Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources via Getty Images) and on August 19, 2014 (photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


On December 9, 2015, Lake Oroville had recorded its lowest water level for the year and was very close to reaching its lowest water level ever. But then El Niño arrived! And by yesterday evening, the water level in Lake Oroville had risen 20 feet in 10 days, the Department of Water Resources told KRCR.

Here is the part where I issue the standard disclaimer: No, the drought is not over. Refilled reservoirs are good news, but California also needs more snowpack. Luckily, there’s very good news on that front as well.

Yes, that’s four critical locations across California reporting snowpack that’s at or above normal levels for this date.


Come on, El Niño. Bring it.