by Courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor

California’s drought conditions improved amid a series of winter storms and heavy snowfall, though some level of drought are seen this week. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor released new data on Thursday that shows a drop in areas within California previously categorized with having an "exceptional drought” from 23 percent to 0.84 percent. This comes after storms fueled by moisture over the Pacific poured rain and snow in some areas of the state beginning Christmas weekend. 

The data from last week illustrated 79 percent of the state in extreme drought. Tuesday’s report showed nearly 33 percent of the region in that category. According to the drought monitor, only a small part of northern California along the Oregon border is in “exceptional drought”. This is a drastic improvement as the state saw 88 percent of it’s regions in extreme drought three months ago. 

During the past two weeks, precipitation has averaged 150 to 300 percent of normal, or more, throughout nearly all of California, according to the drought monitor. This wet pattern during mid to late December has also been accompanied by below normal temperatures across California and the Pacific Northwest. 

It is safe to say that California is no stranger to droughts. Wet winter months are typically followed by dry spells and replenish the state’s critical water reservoirs and snowpack. Approximately a third of the state’s water supply comes from the Sierra Nevada and the Shasta-Trinity mountain range as snow melts and flows in the northern region of the state.

California's mountain snow holds 160% of the water it normally does this time of year, state water officials announced Thursday, marking a strong start to the drought-stricken state's traditionally wet winter season. According to the drought monitor, periods of heavy snow continue to build a favorable snowpack from the Cascades southward to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

"Given the favorable snowpack and heavy precipitation during December, additional improvements may be warranted for California during subsequent weeks," the drought monitor said in a statement. 

The state is “definitely not out of the woods quite yet," said Sean de Guzman, manager of the snow surveys and water supply forecasting for the California Department of Water Resources.

The state’s climate is typically dry throughout the summer and wet winters are not always guaranteed.Generally, droughts are identified as a period of drier than normal conditions resulting in water-related problems that can last anywhere from a few days to several years. California just finished it’s second driest year on record and many of the state’s water reservoirs were at historic lows. 

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