Most of California — Including All of SoCal — Is Drought Free After Series of Storms, Officials Say

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Bolstered by recent heavy rains, almost all of California is completely out of drought, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

A drought map of California for Dec. 12, 2019. (Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)
A drought map of California for Dec. 12, 2019. (Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)

The  data, released Thursday, shows that there is no drought in 96.4% of the state. Only sections of California that border Oregon have any lingering dryness.

Another week of above-average rainfall and mountain snow in the region helped saturate California, erasing most of the dryness and making up for a slow start to the water year that began Oct. 1, experts said.

Last week, about 85.3% of the state was considered abnormally dry, according to the federal monitor, which is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Precipitation totals are now well above normal for much of the southern two-thirds of California at this point in the season, thanks to a series of storms that began drenching the state on-and-off from before Thanksgiving through this past weekend, the Los Angeles Times reports.

It’s a big difference from last year at this time, when parts of Southern California were still mired in severe to extreme drought. Only 7%, a section primarily in the Sierra Nevada, recorded no drought; but the vast majority of the state — about 75% — was mired in at least moderate drought, according to the monitor.

The recent storms have also helped replenish the state’s reservoirs, many of which are at or above their historical averages, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

In the Sierra, recent snowfall has been a boon for the snowpack, a critical source for the state’s water supply. The central and southern parts of the range are above normal as of Thursday, while the Northern Sierra is at 96% of normal, according to the department.

Overall, 2019 has been an exceptional water year for California, with a very wet winter pulling the state completely out of drought in March — the first time the state was drought free since late 2011.

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