California drought conditions ease after winter storms

by IANS |

San Francisco, March 3 (IANS) The recent rain and snow from a series of winter storms topped annual precipitation averages across the US West, especially over the Sierra and coastal ranges and Rocky Mountains, resulting in freeing half of California from drought.

According to the latest data released by US Drought Monitor (USDM) on Thursday, moderate or severe drought still covered about 49 per cent of the Golden State, while nearly 17 per cent of the state was free of drought or a condition described as abnormally dry, reports Xinhua news agency.

The remainder is still abnormally dry.

It said central California's Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills were free of drought and abnormal dryness for the first time since January 2020.

The central coast from Monterey Bay to Los Angeles County was also drought-free, along with two counties on the far north coast.

Three month ago, the data showed that all of California was in drought, including at extreme and exceptional levels.

"The rain has improved California soil moisture and streamflow levels, while the snow has increased mountain snowpack to much above-normal levels. Most California reservoirs have refilled with water levels near or above average, but groundwater levels remain low and may take months to recover," the summary of the USDM's weekly report read.

California Water Watch issued by the state's Department of Water Resources found that as of Thursday major reservoir levels were at 96 per cent of average lever and statewide snowpack, which provides about a third of the state's water resource, was about 170 per cent of the historical average level.

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