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California out of ‘exceptional drought’ after a week full of storms

A new drought map released shows the effect of a week’s worth of rain

A barbed wire fence in California.
A barbed wire fence runs along a ranch in Sites, Calif., on July 23, 2021. Record snowfall in the past month has helped with California’s drought conditions.
Adam Beam, Associated Press

A new federal U.S Drought Monitor map shows the drastic effects of the past week’s storms on the severity of drought in California.

  • The entire state is almost out of “exceptional drought,” though central parts of the state are still experiencing “extreme drought.”

Last week, the state experienced record snowfall for December, with the Central Sierra snow lab observing 193.7 inches of snow, per SFGate.

  • “Prior to the recent heavy precipitation this month, much of California was designated with extreme (D3) to exceptional (D4) drought,” said Brad Pugh, a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that assists with the map, per the report. “The recent heavy precipitation and favorable snowpack resulted in 1- to 2-class improvements in the drought intensity level, but 12- to 24-month precipitation deficits continue. Additional improvements may be warranted during the next couple of weeks.”
  • “A persistent pattern over the North Pacific and western North America maintained a continuation of frequent storms affecting the West Coast through late December,” the Drought Monitor statement said, per NBC News. “Seven-day precipitation from December 21-27 exceeded 2 inches, liquid equivalent, across much of California along with western portions of Oregon and Washington.
A screenshot of the California Drought Map from Dec. 21.
A screenshot of the California Drought Map from Dec. 28.

The state is “definitely not out of the woods quite yet,” said Sean de Guzman, manager of the snow surveys and water supply forecasting for the California Department of Water Resources, per the report.

  • The droughts are common in California, where dry spells are followed by wet winters that replenish the state’s snowpacks and water reservoirs.