Drought conditions continue to ease across California thanks to the relentless battering of rain and snowstorms dating back to early in the season.
Data released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday shows 44% of the Golden State is completely clear of any drought classification – an improvement from 27% just a week ago.
Roughly 36% of California is still experiencing “moderate drought” conditions while 8%, mostly the southeastern desert regions and the northeastern corner of the state, is still in a “severe drought,” the data shows. The remaining 10% is experiencing “abnormally dry” conditions.
This also appears to be the first time in three years that Los Angeles and San Francisco have been free of any drought classification.
A series of atmospheric rivers since December have pushed snowpack levels well above seasonal averages in the Sierra Nevada.
“By March 13, season-to-date snowfall at the Central Sierra Snow Lab at California’s Donner Pass exceeded 650 inches, compared to a normal full-season total (of) around 360 inches,” the authors of the Drought Monitor’s report said. “Looking more broadly at the western U.S., snow-water equivalency values greater than 200% of normal extend from the Sierra Nevada across much of the Great Basin and into parts of Utah.”
Beyond the data, the real impact of the wet and snowy winter trickles down to residential and agricultural water customers.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced it was lifting emergency water restrictions for nearly 7 million people.
And the rain isn’t letting up just yet. Another atmospheric river is poised to hit the state next week.