California gets break before another round of rain and snow

California gets break before another round of rain and snow”

Several rounds of heavy rain and snow have brought a major reduction to the drought in Southern California, while a stormy pattern also brought beneficial rain to areas of the South.

Of key importance: just 2 percent of California remains in "exceptional drought", down from 24 percent a week ago, and 64 percent at this time previous year.

There is a stark contrast in the newly updated drought monitor, showing the 5-year drought in California is quickly dissipating and improvements across the country.

Drought conditions have retreated from almost half of California after January's onslaught of storms, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday, and one large water wholesaler urged state regulators to lift restrictions on areas with adequate supplies. Fifty-one percent of the state remains in some category of drought, compared to 95 percent one year ago.

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Richard Tinker, a drought expert with the National Weather Service and the author of this week's drought map, said the weekend's epic rainstorms led him to downgrade much of Southern California to lower levels of drought severity.

Drought conditions in the Southeast have also undergone a significant reduction thanks to another recent soaking in the last week.

Central California's Big Sur Station has seen 43.41 inches of precipitation this rainy season, which is classified as the 12-month period from July 1 through June 30.

Three months ago, 21 percent of California was under exceptional drought. After January's train of storms, the statewide average snowpack is nearly twice the normal for late January, with the Sierra Nevada range reporting 193% of its historical average.

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Despite pressure from water agencies, California officials have not called an end to the state's drought emergency, although the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on the matter on February 7.

In some areas of California's vast agricultural heartland called the San Joaquin Valley, domestic wells have run dry and the land is sinking at an alarming pace as aquifers collapse.

California has endured more than five years of drought.

Here is what the California drought looked like in early 2014.

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This winter, the southern Sierra is finally getting colder temperatures and a lot of precipitation, leaving its snowpack water content at 223 percent of normal, even higher than the Northern Sierra's 158 percent.

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