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Did December's rain bring CA out of the drought?

The California Department of Water Resources says, "no."

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — If you've been outside or looked out of a window over the last few weeks, you know we've had quite a bit of rain in the San Diego area.

But is the latest rainfall good enough to officially bring us out of our drought conditions?

"There's no denying that the rain and snow that we've gotten in California for December is phenomenal. We've all kind of gotten used to this drier condition so when we see a pretty good winter storm we think, 'Wow! This is amazing! This must be record-setting!'” said David Rizzardo, the manager of Hydrology for the California Department of Water Resources. 

“We had this atmospheric river at the end of October that really inundated areas with a lot of rainfall and we've seen that again in the Southern California area. There are short durations that really impact us and then it goes dry for very long. And it can be very confusing to hear, 'We're in a drought' when the streets are flooding."

Rizzardo says all this rain did very little to bring California out of our drought. So how do you reconcile seeing heavy rain and still being in a drought?

He says the science is clear.

"That's climate change. It's here. It's now. It's not in the future,” said Rizzardo. “That's what we're dealing with. It's the extremes back and forth. Week to week, month to month."

Unfortunately, Rizzardo also says it doesn't look like it's going to get better if this is the last of the rain.

"There's a lot of guidance out there that suggests January, February and March could be below average, dry and warm which will really just exacerbate the drought," said Rizzardo.

So how much rain do we need? The Department of Water Resources says the state averages about 21-inches of rain.

In our latest water year, from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, the state of California has only seen 11-inches of rain. That's more than 10-inches left to go.

Rizzardo says with the expected dry conditions that's coming, the drought outlook may be bleak.

"We're still far from talking about if the drought is over. It's probably best to have that conversation in May or April so we can see what the winter really did bring us."

WATCH RELATED: Winter storm continues to pound San Diego County (December 2021)

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