Rain and snow are easing California out of its drought

  • Rain and snow are easing California out of its drought

Rain and snow are easing California out of its drought

California isn't drought-free just yet, but half of the state is there thanks to recent storms and heavy rain.

A new drought monitor map that was released Thursday morning shows that only two percent of Calfornia is in extreme drought conditions.

This was also the first time since January 2014 that not a single part of the state was considered under "exceptional drought" conditions; in January of 2016, 40% of the state was considered to be in exceptional drought.

That is an improvement over last week's monitor that had the eastern half of the Shoals in a severe drought and western half in a moderate drought.

Drought conditions have retreated from almost half of California after January's onslaught of storms, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday, and one large water wholesaler urged state regulators to lift restrictions on areas with adequate supplies.

The worst level, exceptional drought, has vanished entirely and the extreme level applies to little more than 2 percent of the state northwest of Los Angeles.

"This improvement accounts for some short-term drought improvement, but the longer-term drought impacts still remain", a statement from the National Weather Service said.

Rain and snow are easing California out of its drought
Rain and snow are easing California out of its drought

When it comes to drought relief, "it's easier to catch up in winter", she said.

Drought conditions in the state have been steadily improving over the last few months. So the area may be in a "severe drought", but its water supply is still secure as long as there is enough snowfall in the Sierras and in the Rockies.

Statewide, the average snowpack (essentially water in storage) is nearly twice the normal level for late January, according to the weekly monitor.

Tinker made a decision to keep Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in extreme drought because they are much more reliant on local sources of water than residents of greater Los Angeles, which was downgraded to severe drought. The area covered by severe drought fell from 44.4 percent to 26.5 percent, while extreme drought was nearly wiped away, dropping from 24.3 percent to 2.2 percent.

California has endured more than five years of drought.

That is significant since the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California's water particularly in the spring and summer months.