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Creeping drought returns to California

Snowpack at 30 percent, near record lows

Winter Season Kicks Off at Lake Tahoe
Mt Tallac, where snowfall this year is well below average.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

In a dismaying but not surprising development, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported last week that drought conditions are inexorably creeping back into California, although it’s not yet as bad as they were at the height of the last crisis.

The most recent California drought map marks more than 73.3 percent of the state as experiencing at least “abnormally dry” conditions, with more than 43.7 percent in the midst of “moderate drought.” More than 4.9 percent of the state is in “severe drought,” concentrated around the Los Angeles area.

At the most recent count, more than 24 million Californians are once again living in a drought zone. Compare that number to one year ago, when the figure was around 15 million and dropping.

In April of 2017, Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought crisis over but cautioned Californians that “the next drought could be around the corner.”

Although it was kind of a bummer having Moonbeam rain all over everyone’s parade, Mother Nature appears intent on proving Gov. Brown right. Alas.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that mountain snowpack sits about about 30 percent of the historical average right now. For perspective, 2015’s 25 percent was the worst year ever; however, the Department of Water Resources points out that reservoirs remain brimming, providing at least some short-term security for the state.

Meanwhile, the most recent forecasts predict a warm and sunny February in San Francisco, with temperatures expected top be in the 60s and 70s throughout the month.