Parts of California are under water, the Rocky Mountains are bracing for more snow, flood warnings are in place in Nevada, and water is being released from some Arizona reservoirs to make room for an expected bountiful spring runoff.
All the moisture has helped alleviate dry conditions in many parts of the western U.S. Even major reservoirs on the Colorado River are trending in the right direction.
But climate experts caution that the favorable drought maps represent only a blip on the radar as the long-term effects of a stubborn drought persist.
Groundwater and reservoir storage levels — which take much longer to bounce back — remain at historic lows. It could be more than a year before the extra moisture has an effect on the shoreline at Lake Mead that straddles Arizona and Nevada. And it’s unlikely that water managers will have enough wiggle room to wind back the clock on proposals for limiting water use.