Rain and snow are easing California out of its drought

As of Thursday, following weeks of heavy rain storms and massive dumps of mountain snow, exceptional drought has vacated the state. Exceptional drought has been wiped out for the first time since January 21, 2014.

The state's drought means local water agencies must monitor and enforce conservation efforts.

Drought conditions have retreated from almost half of California after January's onslaught of storms, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday, and one large water wholesaler urged state regulators to lift restrictions on areas with adequate supplies.

"This improvement accounts for some short-term drought improvement, but the longer-term drought impacts still remain", a statement from the National Weather Service said.

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Indeed, Rippey said the recovery in the groundwater is "still a little bit of a question mark" but could end up looking better by spring.

Considerable portions of California have already received at least half of their annual precipitation just one month into the year.

Tinker considers several different indicators to determine the various degrees of drought: soil moisture, rainfall and streamflow.

Perhaps in a testament to the seriousness of the drought the state faced late a year ago, dry conditions continue to be evident in Alabama even as rainfall has recently been steady.

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The monitor, a weekly map featuring an intensity index and discussion of the country's latest drought conditions, is a joint venture between three federal agencies.

The state has now moved out of the highest level of drought, termed "exceptional" - which lingered in northwestern Los Angeles County, parts of Santa Barbara and Kern counties, and most of Ventura County - for the first time since January 21, 2014.

The drought has lessened from "extreme" to "severe" in the rest of Los Angeles County, all of Orange County, western Riverside and San Diego counties, and southwestern San Bernardino county over the past week or so.

Ventura, for example, doesn't import water from the Sierra Nevada or the Colorado River like the rest of the region, so it is more dependent on groundwater, reservoirs and rainfall.

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California's 50 percent drought coverage is as low as it's been since April 2013.


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