Drought conditions remain in just 17% of California

The California drought seems to be nearing an end, with just 17% of the state still under drought conditions according to the U.S. drought monitor. One year ago 94% of the state was considered to be in drought, with 82% of the state in “severe” drought or worse. This week is the first time that more than half the state (62%) had no drought or abnormally dry condition at all. This graphic shows the comparison between where the state is this week and where it was just four months ago.

The state is still maintaining emergency water restrictions put in place by Governor Jerry Brown when the drought was severe. The State Water Resources Control Board has said it will not consider lifting those restrictions until May, when the wet season is over. But ABC News reports some experts are saying the drought appears to be over:

After this incredibly wet winter, [Columbia University climate scientist Park] Williams said, he considers the drought over; trees that survived the drought will likely begin recovering, and lakes are near capacity, he explained.

Michael Dettinger, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist and a researcher at the University of California at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, agrees with Williams’ assessment.

“I believe that the drought is over at this point,” he told ABC News. “If groundwater levels were lower than they should be because of the drought, then we wouldn’t need to say it’s over. But groundwater levels are down because of overpumping that’s been going on … for 50 to 70 years. To me, that’s not drought — that’s just a long-term imbalance of how we use water.”

Earlier today CBS reported Lake Berryessa in Napa County is overflowing for the first time in years: