A 'fourth dry year' likely in California, officials say

California's reservoirs will enter fall in a slightly better position than last year, but the Golden State should prepare for more dryness, extreme weather events and water

quality hazards in 2023, officials say. The latest climate forecasting update from the Department of Water Resources came Wednesday, just days before the end of the water

year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 in California. Officials said some of the state's biggest reservoirs, including Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta, are slightly more full than

they were at the same time last year, but still remain well below average. Water managers are now preparing for a "fourth dry year," as well as more unpredictable weather

and wildfires associated with climate change, DWR Assistant Deputy Director John Yarbrough said during a meeting of the California Water Commission. "We have more storage in

the reservoirs, but we're still well below average, well below where we'd like to be," Yarbrough said. What's more, "we have to prepare and expect that we're going to see things

that we haven't seen before." Part of the challenge facing the state's water managers is that climate change is making it more difficult to predict and prepare for water

outcomes, Yarbrough said. During the 2022 water year, officials observed significant swings between extreme wet and extreme dry conditions, including a notably rainy October

through December followed by the driest January through March on record. Yarbrough said such variability underscores the need for conservative planning and aggressive

multiagency action.