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2013 driest year in California history

Published On: Nov 12 2013 08:31:22 PM CST
City of Shasta Lake, Calif -

2013 stands to be the driest year on record in California according to the National Climatic Data Center.

As of Nov. 12, Redding was 14.7 inches below average on the year, receiving only 19.77 inches of rain since Jan. 1.

That dearth of rain has had a marked affect on Shasta Lake, which right now is 128 feet below its peak capacity.

That means, due to the shape of the lake, the reservoir is holding only 37% of the water it is designed to contain.

Redding and many areas near Lake Shasta get much of its electricity from the power generated at the dam, but officials say that the lake would have to fall a further 219 feet before anything that drastic would happen.

The lake levels are still 110 feet higher than the all time record low of 238 feet below crest set in 1977.

Those extreme lows were caused by two consecutive years of much below average rainfall, between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1977 Lake Shasta saw less than half its average rainfall.

But in 1978 Lake Shasta peaked at only 2.5 feet below full.

Officials say that this type of boom-and-bust rain cycle are precisely why the dams were built in California, and are a very natural occurrence.

They say some years can be very dry, but they are always followed in a few years by a wet year.

The longest dry stretch came between June 30, 1986 and July 1, 1991.  During that time Shasta Dam received a maximum of 75% of their normal rainfall.

Dam officials also say that the wettest months of the year, December, January and February, are still to come and a few months can change everything.