California’s drought left Lake Nacimiento only 22 percent full as of late last year.
Nearby Lake San Antonio remained at critical levels and was closed to the public July 1, 2015.
However, a Jan. 30 image reveals how the recent precipitation has transformed the water levels in these two lakes.
“A decade of drought in California has eased after the first month of 2017, thanks to heavy rains and snow, a fact that Landsat images are helping to confirm,” USGS noted in its post of the images.
Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager captured the dramatic reversal in these false-color views of Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio, USGS officials added.
Both images also depict in red the scar left by last summer’s Chimney Fire, which charred more than 46,000 acres.
“For the first time in three years, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported in late January 2017 that not a single area in California is considered in ‘exceptional drought,’ the most severe category,” the USGS said. “A year ago, about 40 percent of the state was under the most severe designation.
After six weeks of rain, San Luis Obispo County was downgraded from “exceptional drought” to “moderate drought, and as of Feb. 1, more than 48 percent of California was considered drought-free — compared to only 5 percent a year ago, according to the Drought Monitor.
The satellite responsible for capturing the images headed to space Feb. 11, 2013, aboard an Atlas V rocket that blasted off from south Vandenberg.
Landsat 8 was originally dubbed the Landsat Data Continuity Mission but was renamed once it reached space. The imagery is used in agriculture, business, science and government.
Data from the Landsat series of spacecraft, which have launched into orbit from Vandenberg since 1972, make up the longest record of the Earth’s continental surfaces as seen from space.
NASA has put Landsat 9 on a fast track with plans for launch in December 2020 from Vandenberg.