Drought update for Calif.: Mixed news

SACRAMENTO, CA - There is some mixed news with the update from the US Drought Monitor today. There is some improvement locally, but the drought is getting much worse for Central and Southern California.

With the atmospheric river event a few weekends ago, we saw steady rain and some totals in the Coastal mountains North of the Bay Area, as well as the Sierra Foothills in the 6-12 inch range. Very impressive rain and high elevation snow made an impact on our drought, and we see some areas drop one level of drought designation from Severe to Extreme. We have also seen major improvement for the far North Coast area near Crescent City dropping two levels. The problem is the band of rain was fairly narrow and many parts of the state missed out on heavy rain.

We now have 68 percent of the state in an Extreme drought, level 4/5 and 15 percent of the state in an Exceptional level 5/5 drought.

The main growth area for the drought is to our south. The numbers are scary for the Central Coast, and Southern California but there is some relief in sight. The Central Coast has one major problem related to water resources, and that relates to snowpack. It is a traditionally dry area, and they can't rely on steady snowmelt to fill up local reservoirs. The local mountains are not large enough or high enough to produce significant snowpack. Their main water supply is from local reservoirs filled with winter rain, groundwater, and piped in water from other parts of the state. The good news is that steady rain is heading to the area next week.

The storms forecast for next week will bring rain to most of the state and that's a big opportunity for the hardest hit part of the state to get direct rainfall. The additional rain to other parts of the state will also help the drought, and I see a chance to turn the numbers around statewide by the end of next week.


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