You can see California's drought from space

Some late-season snow blanketed Northern California in April, but not enough to change the course of California's drought. 

Additionally, warmer than usual temperatures have led to the snow melting and evaporating faster than normal, state officials said.

"Just how much snow is in Northern California and The Sierra Mountains? Not all that much," ISS officials tweeted along with a video of the mountains.

The latest data from U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than 95% of California is classified under severe or extreme drought, an increase from about 66% reported in February.

About a third of California’s water supply comes from melted snow that trickles into rivers and reservoirs. 

The nearly 11 inches worth of water sitting in snow in the Sierra Nevada along California’s eastern edge is the lowest reading since the depth of the last drought seven years ago, when California ended winter with just 5% of the normal water levels in the mountains, according to the department.

The numbers mark a disappointing end to California’s winter, which began with heavy December storms that put the snowpack at 160% of the average. But there has been little precipitation since Jan. 1.

Amid this drought, Southern California’s gigantic water supplier has taken the unprecedented step of requiring about 6 million people to cut their outdoor watering to one day a week as an extended drought plagues the state following another dry winter.

The Metropolitan Water District uses water from the Colorado River and the State Water Project — a vast storage and delivery system — to supply 26 public water agencies that provide water to 19 million people, or 40% of the state’s population.

But record dry conditions have strained the system, lowering reservoir levels, and the State Water Project — which gets its water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — has estimated it will be capable of delivering only about 5% of its usual allocation, for the second consecutive year.

January, February and March of this year were the driest three months in recorded state history in terms of rainfall and snowfall, officials said.

The Metropolitan Water District said that the 2020 and 2021 water years had the least rainfall on record for two consecutive years. In addition, Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s main reservoir, reached its lowest point last year since it was filled in the 1970s.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked people statewide to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 15%, but so far residents have been slow to meet that goal.

Scientists say this boom-and-bust cycle is driven by climate change that will be marked by longer, more severe droughts. A study from earlier this year found the U.S. West was in the middle of a megadrought that is now the driest in at least 1,200 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.