Sat, Mar 16, 2019 - Page 7 News List

California declared ‘drought free’ after abundant rain, snow

Reuters, LOS ANGELES

California on Thursday was declared totally drought free for the first time in more than seven years, following unusually abundant winter rains and snowfall statewide, according to the US government’s weekly report on drought conditions.

The US Drought Monitor’s latest survey reflected an astonishing turnaround — at least for now — from a severe, prolonged dry spell that reduced irrigation supplies to farmers, forced strict household conservation measures and stoked a spate of deadly, devastating wildfires.

A relatively small swath of California’s southern-most region, including most of San Diego County, remains labeled “abnormally dry” on the drought map index, as does a tiny patch at the state’s extreme northern end along the Oregon border.

However, this week marks the first time since mid-December of 2011 that 100 percent of the state has been classified as being free of drought, defined as a moisture deficit severe enough to cause social, environmental or economic ills. Conditions were classified as normal across 93 percent of the state.

The current picture marks a major improvement from just one year ago, when nearly 70 percent of California was still classified as in moderate to severe drought conditions.

What made the difference was one of the wettest winters on record in California after a series of Pacific storms replenished lakes and reservoirs.

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