For the first time in 15 years, the entire state of California is experiencing drought, ranging in severity from moderate to exceptional.
That’s the analysis from the National Climatic Data Center’s most recent drought monitor released this week, which found that nearly 39% of the country was in drought. That figure rose by 1% from the previous week.
Drought definitions vary widely. The Climatic Data Center—part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—relies in part on precipitation reports for its assessment. California’s drought monitors consider the state’s water supplies.
Thus, while California is still in the grips of drought, the situation has eased somewhat in the last two months, according to state officials. Soaking rains in Northern California in February and March have put a dent in what was a dire situation.
So much so that last week the State Water Project, which supplies a majority of the state, announced it will be able to make 5% of the system’s allocation. That was good news for municipalities, which had been told in January to expect no water from the project.
Still, NOAA reported last week that half of the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack liquid water equivalent melted in one week, spurred by statewide temperatures that were as much as 12 degrees above average. The melt only boosted reservoir levels slightly,the agency said.