clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Drought Monitor declares California drought-free [Update]

New, 1 comment

The Bay Area has seen more rain this year than Seattle

AMGEN Tour of California - Stage 3 Men’s: Pismo Beach to Morro Bay
Twitchell Reservoir in San Luis Obispo County.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Update: The most recent drought map, released Thursday, declares the entire state of California drought-free for the first time since 2011.

California is almost completely drought-free for the first time in over seven years.

According to an assessment map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor, only 0.6 percent of the state is in drought conditions right now—a small sliver of Siskiyou County right at the Oregon border, which the federal agency presently assesses as still in “moderate drought.”

Less than 11 percent of the state is even deemed “abnormally dry” as of last week, with most of that area concentrated in San Diego County and Imperial County.

Eric Luebehusen, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who prepped the most recent map, writes:

Heavy rain and mountain snow continued to slam locations from the northern California Coast into the north central Rockies. Precipitation over the past seven days totaled an impressive two to 10 inches (locally more) from San Francisco north into the southern Cascades and east to the Sierra Nevada.

Outside of a few locales in the southern San Joaquin Valley and in the far north, almost all of California is now reporting precipitation surpluses for the water year. [...] Snowpacks are in good to excellent shape in the Sierra Nevada (80th-98th percentile), southern Cascades (60th-92nd percentile), and from the Great Basin into the northcentral Rockies (55th-100th percentile).

US Drought Monitor

A rotating series of analysts prepare the drought map each week (which is mostly compiled for agricultural purposes)—and, to a degree, it represents a judgment call about statewide conditions.

This most recent assessment borders on historic: In December of 2011, estimated statewide drought conditions leapt from zero percent to more than five percent and, until now, never dipped below that mark.

Only three months ago, almost 80 percent of the state still struggled with drought. An enormous (and dangerous) wet winter has since invested the state with hydration to spare—as ABC7 calculates it, the Bay Area has received more rain this year than Seattle, Washington, 45 days worth in total in San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

According to Golden Gate Weather, SF has seen 110 percent of annual average rainfall in 2019, with the area around SFO at 114 percent. Only one area, located around Mountain View, is still at less than average—in that case, 99 percent.

The California Department of Water Resources measures reservoirs around the state at greater than average levels except for Trinity Lake in Trinity County, which is at 98 percent, and Castaic Lake in Southern California, which is at 93.

The SF-critical Hetch Hetchy reservoir added nearly 20,000 acre feet (one acre foot being more than 325,000 gallons) in the last two months alone.