A year ago 95 percent of California was in a drought. Today, just 9 percent of the state is still experiencing drought conditions thanks to one of the wettest winters on record. Those are the findings of the United States Drought Monitor, a weekly map of drought conditions produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The percentage of the state currently in drought is the lowest since 2011, when the drought began.
Scientists say the Sierra Nevada snowpack measured on March 1 was an astounding 185 percent of average, measuring 45.5 inches. The Sierra Nevada hasn’t had this much snowpack since 1993 when the snowpack was at 205 percent of normal, measuring 51.25 inches. The historical average snowpack is 24.6 inches, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
A series of “atmospheric river” storms flowing east from Hawaii and the tropical Pacific have slammed the state, bringing heavy rain and dumping massive amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. There have been about 30 atmospheric river events since Oct. 1 – well above the yearly average of 12, and the six annually during the last five years of the drought.
However, even with record levels of rain filling up reservoirs and snow accumulating in the Sierra Nevada, Gov. Jerry Brown is not about to declare the drought over. The snowpack will be measured again on April 1 when it is considered at its peak and Brown said he will wait until those results are announced before making a call on the drought and associated water conservation measures.