California is Drought-Free for First Time in Nearly a Decade

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For the first time since 2011, California is no longer in a state of drought. A map released by the U.S. Drought Monitorshows that all areas in the state of California have normal levels of precipitation and no shortage of water.

In 2017, former Governor Jerry Brown lifted the drought emergency through an issue of executive order, but still encouraged Californians to conserve water as some areas of the state were still in the throes of extreme drought. Year after year of drought caused the deficit of water reserves to continually diminish, but now, this deficit seems to have been reversed thanks to an unusually wet winter.

The Drought Monitor collects data from multiple agencies, including the National Drought Mitigation Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and several other weather agencies to accurately generate a real-time visual on areas that are experiencing severe water shortages. The last drought map generated that showed no shortages was last seen back in 2011.

Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the LA Times, “The reservoirs are full, lakes are full, the streams are flowing, there’s tons of snow, (and) all the drought is officially gone.”

Thanks to storms throughout January, many of the state’s water reserves were filled to near capacity, adding about 58 billion gallons of water to reservoirs across the state. In addition, snowpack nearly doubled across the Sierra Nevada in January, then doubled again in February. This snowpack serves as a major source of California’s water supply, which has been crucial for finally ending a very prolonged drought.

Photo by SHAH Shah on Unsplash

This marks a profound improvement over last year, as only 11% of the state was experiencing normal conditions, with over 89% of the state being classified as abnormally dry. This figure has diminished significantly, with maps showing 93% of the state are experiencing normal conditions, with no areas currently in a drought.

As for San Diego County, conditions are currently marked as “abnormally dry,” but, still not classified as being in a drought. Reservoirs throughout the county are marked as being at 65% capacity, contributing the dry conditions in relation to the rest of the state. Nevertheless, these are the best conditions we’ve seen in years, spelling out hope as we begin to enter into warmer temperatures as winter comes to a close.

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