California drought

Satellite Images Show Nonexistent Sierra Snowpack, Depleted Reservoir

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Satellite images released by NASA Thursday paint an increasingly grim picture of California's worsening drought.

One set of images captures the Sierra Nevada snowpack – the state's main source of water – disappear by early summer. On March 31, 2021, snow can be seen blanketing the mountain range. In mid-May, much of that snow had already melted. By July 7, it was gone.

According to officials, Sierra snow melted three to four weeks early this year.

A second set of images shows a side-by-side comparison of Lake Oroville in Northern California. On June 4, 2019, the reservoir was filled to the brim. On June 9, 2021, exposed shoreline was clearly visible due to the lack of water available from the diminished snowpack.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked people and businesses in California to voluntarily cut how much water they use by 15%.

In the Bay Area, some local water agencies are imposing restrictions in an effort to save water.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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