There is a stark contrast in the newly updated drought monitor, showing the 5-year drought in California is quickly dissipating and improvements across the country.
The national picture of drought seemed to change in a matter of weeks after massive snowfall on the west coast. While there are still spots of extreme drought in areas of southern California, Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia, those are overshadowed by the wide swaths of improvement.
Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the USDA, says the country is free of D-4, or exceptional drought, for the first time since March 29, 2011.
The combination of categories in extreme and exceptional drought now cover less than half of 1 percent of the lower 48 states, the lowest point since Oct. 5, 2010.
Due to the snow and rain since the first of the year, California is now completely free of exceptional drought.
The new drought monitor shows nearly 40 percent of the state is completely drought-free. In comparison to a year ago, it’s a drastic change when nearly the entire state was in the direst drought categories.
“Like Texas with the perma-drought that ended with heavy rains, this has been an incredible winter in California with 200 percent of normal snow in the Sierra, running well-above normal in all of the state of California,” said Joe D’Aleo, chief forecaster with WeatherBELL.