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California’s drought easing, but far from over

winter rainstorms patrick dirden.jpg
Patrick Dirden
Flickr / Creative Commons
Heavy winter rainstorms, like this one, have eased California's two-year-long drought.

A series of winter storms have not only provided relief for much of California, but also raised hopes that the state’s two-year-long drought could be nearing an end.

Last week, maps released by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed much of the state finally emerging from “exceptional drought” – that is widespread shortages, the threat of wildfires and severe risk to native plant and animal species. Despite the sustained precipitation, drought conditions remain.

KTLA reports that half of the state still remains categorized as being in “severe drought,” while a third of the state is classified as being in “moderate” drought or “abnormally dry” – the highest portion of the state to be declared that way in more than a year. About 16 percent is experiencing “extreme drought,” the second-highest category.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that winter storms have pulled most of the Bay Area out of the severe drought category.

The rainfall totals for the San Francisco and Oakland airports, as well as downtown San Francisco, are nearly 200 percent higher than normal, and are close to their average for a water year, measured from September 30 to October 1st, according to Golden Gate Weather Services.