An aerial shot shows low water conditions at Lake Oroville in Butte County on May 24, 2022. Photo by Andrew Innerarity, California Department of Water Resources

(CALMATTERS) – Might the ferocious winter storms that have pounded California so far in December signal the beginning of the end of the state’s drought? Not necessarily: Last year, fierce early storms were followed by the driest January through March in California’s recorded history, and a fourth straight drought year still looms on the horizon. And, although some of the state’s urban water managers expect a surplus in 2023 — the city of Sacramento, for example, reported a 173% surplus to state officials, while Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District expects an 834% surplus — other regions aren’t so fortunate. Indeed, millions of Southern Californians will likely face strict outdoor water restrictions or even bans next year, with a probable exception for hand-watering trees, CalMatters’ Alastair Bland reports.