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The Drought Is Now Officially Over For Most Of California

(GIF by Julia Wick/LAist. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor)
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Finally, some good news! California's historic, five-year drought is all but over, according to newly released data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

After the latest round of statewide storms, "extreme" drought conditions have been entirely erased from the state map for the first time since August 2013. According to the Mercury News, 83 percent of the state is completely out of the drought; a year ago, only 5 percent of the state was drought free.


(U.S. Drought Monitor)
The relief comes after weeks of record-setting rains, which have wreaked their own kind of havoc across the state (no one ever said living in California was for the faint of heart!). The L.A. Times reports that this is the wettest winter that Southern California has seen in years.

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However, according to the National Weather Service, the record rains don't necessarily mean that the effect of years of damagingly dry conditions can be immediately undone. As the NWS explained on Twitter, although rainfall since October 1, 2016 is between 120 and 200 percent above normal, "this still hasn't made up for five years of drought and rainfall deficits. Many droughts take more than one wet season to recover [from]." The NWS reports that despite increasing reservoir levels, many still remain well below capacity, and groundwater levels are still low.

According to the Daily News, California still legally remains in the state of drought emergency that was declared by Governor Jerry Brown in January 2014. The governor is expected to wait until April (which is typically considered as the end of the rainy winter season) to change the declaration.