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article imageCalifornia declared drought free for first time in seven years

By Tim Sandle     Mar 17, 2019 in Environment
California has emerged from a state-wide drought and has been declared 'drought free' for the fist time in seven years. This follows an abundance of rain and snow throughout the winter months.
California's drought-free status is based on the U.S. government’s weekly report on nationwide drought conditions. The current status represents a significant swing, not only from the past seven years (376 consecutive weeks), but from the more recent spate of devastating wildfires.
Susie Fire on August 4  2011 northwest of Elko  Nevada
Susie Fire on August 4, 2011 northwest of Elko, Nevada
Famartin, Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The new status means California no longer has a moisture deficit significant enough present a risk of social, environmental or economic ills. The turnaround is reflective of the severe Pacific storms that have swept across many parts of the state during the winter. The heavy downpours have caused millions of dollars in damage to highways, such as with the road network in the San Jacinto Mountains, located east of Los Angeles.
This winter (assessed meteorologically as the time period from December 1 to February 28) has been the wettest in the U.S. as a whole since records began in 1895. The recent period has seen a mean rainfall of 9.01 inches, which is 2.22 inches above the typical nationwide average.
Some parts of California only just creep in to the drought-free categorization. California’s southern-most region, such as San Diego County, remains “abnormally dry”.
Commenting on the current status, Newsha Ajami, Stanford University's Director of Urban Water Policy said: "If we have a few more years of this, then maybe our groundwater conditions will be in a much better shape and we might be in a better shape to deal with another potential drought, which will come."
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It provides a range of maps, summaries and data pertaining to precipitation levels,.
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