California drought conditions have improved dramatically
posted at 5:01 pm on January 29, 2017 by John Sexton
The California drought, which had become increasingly severe over the past five years, is not over yet but the situation has improved dramatically in the past month. According to the U.S. drought monitor website, which was updated Thursday, there are no areas of exceptional drought left in the state.
This chart from the drought monitor website indicates that one year ago 64% of the state was considered to be under either extreme or exceptional drought conditions, the two highest categories. Now, largely thanks to the storms over the past month, that figure has dropped to 2 percent.
Here’s an image showing the state 3 months ago compared to last week:
In addition to the heavy rain that has refilled most of the state’s reservoirs, there has also been record snowfall in the mountains:
— MammothMountain (@MammothMountain) January 25, 2017
The Times of San Diego reports the Sierra Nevada snow pack is nearly double its average for this time of year:
California’s vital Sierra Nevada snowpack measured 197 percent of average on Tuesday in the aftermath of three weeks of storms — the highest level in more than a decade.
Automated measuring stations showed 161 percent in the northern section, 195 percent in the central area and 240 percent in the south.
As the weather warms the melting snow will refill reservoirs and also fill underground aquifers that are still depleted after several years of drought.
The bottom line is that California’s drought is not completely over but the situation has changed dramatically and the wet season still isn’t over. The extended weather forecast predicts more rain in southern California this week and the week after. This NASA video shows the atmospheric river that sent all the precipitation to California in the first 11 days of the month: