Almost two-thirds of California is now drought-free

Thanks to a string of repeated rain and snow events this season, nearly two-thirds of California is now drought-free, new data revealed Thursday.

Only 36.42 percent of the Golden State is currently experiencing drought — a massive drop from 100 percent at this time last year and 99.76 percent at the start of fall of the so-called “water year,” according to the US Drought Monitor.

“Slight improvements in the last week, major improvements since the beginning of the water year,” the Bay Area Division of the National Weather Service stated with reference to October 1, 2022.

Across California, only 27.93 percent of the state experiences moderate drought, while only 8.49 percent experiences severe drought, the Drought Monitor reported. No areas are currently experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

Meanwhile, 63.58 percent of the state has completely escaped drought — with 44.6 percent of the state experiencing no drought at all and 18.92 percent coping with “abnormally dry” but not drought conditions.

“Two atmospheric flow events hit California and parts of neighboring states, with the second arriving at the end of the drought monitoring period,” the drought monitor said in a statement.

“Rain, along with the melting of snowpack at lower elevations and the release of dams, also resulted in significant water increases along many waterways in California’s Central Valley,” the statement continued.

Meanwhile, the average snowwater equivalent — the amount of water contained in snow — of the high-altitude Sierra Nevada’s snowpack rose to more than 220 percent of the seasonal norm in mid-March, the agency added.

In keeping with the copious amounts of rain that has washed over the state this season, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) announced Wednesday that it would lift all water use restrictions.

Acknowledging significant improvements in state water supply availability, MWD warned that storage reserves have been depleted and that the region’s other source of imported water — the Colorado River — continues to face challenges.

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Because of this, MWD urged residents and businesses to continue using water efficiently and prepare for potentially steep cuts in Colorado River supplies.

“Southern California continues to suffer from a water supply deficit,” Tracy Quinn, chair of MWD’s One Water Committee, said in a statement.

“The more efficiently we all use water today, the more we can store for a future dry year,” Quinn added. “And as we face a whiplash against the climate, dry conditions could return as early as next year.”

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