Most of California is out of the drought
A year ago, some Californians thought this day would never come.
But, after being battered by weeks of record-setting rain, the vast majority of the state is out of drought.
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, less than 20% of the state faces any drought conditions and no place in California faces “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.
Parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are still officially listed as being in serious drought. But the recent storms would appear to have taken care of that. Cachuma Lake in the Santa Ynez Valley rose 31 feet during the rains, as the dramatic time-lapse video above shows.
A year ago, more than 90% of the state was in some form of drought.
Parts of Northern California are on track to have their wettest winter on record, with storms causing major flooding and massive snow deposits. Southern California is also having its wettest winter in years.
Earlier this month. the State Water Resources Control Board held firm in the face of opposition and extended emergency drought regulations, pledging to revisit them in May, when the traditional rainy season has ended.
California’s prolonged wet weather has gradually improved its drought outlook. The weekly release of the U.S. Drought Monitor map has largely reflected those improvements. (Jan. 26, 2017)
The storms have replenished California’s water delivery system, which takes snow from the Sierra Nevada and sends it south to cities and farms.
But groundwater shortages remain in many areas, including the southern Central Valley.
Board members said it was most prudent to wait until the rainy season ends and assess the conditions statewide before making changes in regulations.
The drought’s end comes thanks in large part to so-called atmospheric rivers — warm weather systems that flow east from Hawaii and the western Pacific. They carry huge amounts of moisture and provide the majority of California’s water.
11:05 a.m.: This article was updated with background information on the drought and video of Cachuma Lake refilling.
This article was originally published at 8:31 a.m.
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