Map: See California’s drought nearly disappear in just six months
It’s been less than six months, but California’s drought conditions have all but disappeared.
And given all of the wild weather we’ve experienced this winter, it’s been easy to overlook one of the most dramatic changes to the Golden State’s map: Move the slider on the map below to see how since the end of September our wet winter has all but erased the drought.
Mother Nature has soaked California, sending bomb cyclones and back-to-back atmospheric rivers that have drenched the long-parched state with trillions of gallons of water.
The state’s hundreds of miles of levees are being tested, and some like the one in Pajaro are failing, as rivers and streams have surged time and again since the new year, which started off with a giant storm.
The amount of rainfall and the anticipated snowmelt from unusually high snowpacks this winter will continue to present challenges this spring, sending more water flowing from the Sierra into the Central Valley than the existing systems can capture efficiently or control gracefully. Water levels in many reservoirs have hit capacity, lakes that dried up long ago are making a comeback, and the storms keep coming.
The upside? Three years of severe drought conditions have nearly disappeared. At the beginning of the year 94% of the state was in severe drought, or worse. Now, three months later, just 8% of the state is at that level and 45% of the state is free of any drought conditions, a level that wasn’t even on the map in September.
All 58 counties are still under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021 drought emergency order, but that will be reviewed as the rains slow down in the coming weeks.
Check back again Thursday when the U.S. Drought Monitor releases its update to see how the latest round of storms has changed the drought map once more.