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Satellite View: A Little Rain Goes a Long Way for Parched California

Image: Satellite images show California's Sierra Nevada on February 1, 2014 and January 31, 2015.
A series of atmospheric rivers in December 2014 brought much needed precipitation to a drought-stricken California. The result is a visibly greener land cover in early 2015 compared to the same time the previous year, as seen in these Suomi NPP satellite images. The state, however, is still in an extreme drought, having received very little rain or snow since. This lack of precipitation, along with warmer than normal temperatures, has resulted in much lower snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains between the two years. Analysis by NOAA confirms that the extent and depth of the snowpack is much less in 2015 compared to 2014 along with higher snowpack temperatures (i.e, melting).NOAA / NASA

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While California remains in the grips of a drought, a wet December brought some much needed relief that was immediately visible in the Sierra Nevada. Greener stretches of land can be seen in a satellite image taken on January 31, 2015 when compared to one from the same time last year. Though, there has been little rain since then. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lack of precipitation and warm temperatures have contributed to less snowpack this year.

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