Less than half of California now in drought, monitor reports
Less than half of the state of California now remains in drought following the recent spate of heavy snow and rain, according to US Drought Monitor.
The latest data indicates that while moderate or severe drought still covers about 49 per cent of the state’s land mass, nearly 17 per cent is free of drought or abnormally dry conditions.
The remaining 34 per cent of California land is still abnormally dry, all of which means an estimated 9,702,597 are living in drought areas in the state.
This is a positive development, however, because just three months ago virtually all of the western state was in drought, including at extreme and exceptional levels, due to a prolonged scarcity of rainfall.
The turnaround began in December with a series of atmospheric rivers that pounded the state from late December through mid-January, building a huge Sierra Nevada snowpack.
After a few relatively dry weeks, powerful storms returned in February, notably Winter Storm Olive, which moved in from the Midwest and left 90,000 homes without power at one point.
The central Sierra and foothills are now free of drought or abnormal dryness for the first time since January 2020, US Drought Monitor said.
The central coast from Monterey Bay to Los Angeles County is also now drought-free, along with two counties on the far north coast.
“The rain has improved California soil moisture and streamflow levels, while the snow has increased mountain snowpack to much above-normal levels,” the monitor said.
“Most California reservoirs have refilled with water levels near or above average, but groundwater levels remain low and may take months to recover.”
The water content of the Sierra snowpack, which provides aronund one-third of California’s water, is more than 160 per cent of the historical average on 1 April, when it is normally at its peak, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
Additional reporting by agencies