Recent rains have mostly washed California’s drought away

The latest Drought Monitor data show that 96.4% of California is drought free.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Recent rains have saturated California and reduced the portion of the state deemed to be abnormally dry to just 3.6%, according to the Drought Monitor released Thursday.

One week ago, the Drought Monitor showed 85.3% of the state as abnormally dry. Now, 96.4% of the state is drought free.

The data in the report released Thursday are as of Tuesday, so there is a slight lag between when the data are compiled and when they’re released.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced jointly by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Much of the southern two-thirds of the state have received precipitation that is well above average for the season thus far. During Thanksgiving week an atmospheric river soaked the state, and an area from the southern San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountains south to Big Sur was especially drenched.


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(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

An atmospheric river is a plume of water vapor in the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere, sometimes originating near the Hawaiian Islands. Atmospheric rivers are roughly 250 to 375 miles wide, and a strong one can transport as much as 7.5 times to 15 times the average amount of water that flows through the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Los Angeles and San Diego have received above-average precipitation thus far. Northern California got a late start on its rainfall season this year while Southern California got an early start when some big storms brought rain to the entire state. Ordinarily, the rainfall season would begin first in the northern part of the state, then follow a little later in the south.

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