Shasta Lake is a large reservoir on the Sacramento River. It contains water for flood control and to generate electricity. Some of the water within is used for agricultural irrigation and, to a relatively minor degree, to supply regional municipal water.

It is a very common misconception that the volume of water within Shasta Lake is necessarily relative to ‘drought’ conditions. Low water level is supposedly indicative of a ‘drought’. High water level is supposedly indicative of ‘normal’ weather conditions, including adequate precipitation. This same misconception seems to apply to all reservoirs in California.

Well, after the rainiest winter since 1982 and 1983, Shasta Lake is still not full. The level fluctuates, so might have been full earlier, or might be full later, but regardless, is not presently full. Water must be released prior to expected rainy weather, which can still occur during spring, in order to accommodate more water to control flooding. Less water may be released as drier weather is expected. Shasta Lake could therefore be fuller or completely full for summer, when almost no rain is expected. The presently observed water level does not indicate deficiency of water any more than a potentially higher water level during summer indicates surplus.

Most of California has a chaparral climate. Some of California has a desert climate. Such climates are naturally dry through summer. It is quite normal. It does not constitute a drought. A drought is an unusually dry weather pattern. It is not so normal.

Contrary to popular belief, California is NOT in perpetual drought. Although droughts occasionally happen, they are not annual events. Dry weather that occurs annually every summer is normal climate. If there is a deficiency of water here, it is because there are nearly forty million people relying on a limited supply of water.


2 thoughts on “Shasta Lake

  1. I am so glad you explain this Tony, as I know many people confuse weather and climate, especially in areas where dry conditions are normal. But I am afraid people will believe what they want (or what the media tells them to!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I posted this only because I lacked an old article to recycle for that particular day. Now that I see it, it seems more like a rant for a Wednesday. I am a native of California, and I learned about the climate and weather here from my ancestors. There actually was a drought about the time that I was in the third grade, but nowadays, I would not know a drought if it actually happened, since panicking about drought is an annual event. We got more rain and snow (in the Sierra Nevada) this year than since 1976, but I know that people will be complaining about the drought this summer.

      Liked by 1 person

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