BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — California's drought status continues to intensify. The latest report released Thursday morning shows the eastern half of Kern County, including our local mountains and desert, are classified as Severe Drought, with Ridgecrest even worse in an Extreme Drought. The western half of the county, including the south San Joaquin Valley is still in Moderate Drought status.
This comes after a bone dry start to the new year, with no measurable rain in Bakersfield since New Year's Eve. Typically halfway through January we've already collected half an inch of rain on average.
The U.S. Drought Monitor report for the Western region states: "While the Pacific Northwest saw continued wet weather, the Southwest remained dry. One-category improvements were made in west Oregon, where 125% to 300% of normal precipitation has fallen since the beginning of the year. This has led to improvements in streamflow and groundwater. East of the Cascades, water year-to-date precipitation is well below normal, resulting in extremely low streamflows and degradations to exceptional (D3) drought in south-central Oregon. In the Southwest, moderate (D2) and extreme (D3) drought expanded in central California where water year-to-date precipitation is less than 25% of normal. With the exception of an expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) in northern Montana, the rest of the West remained unchanged. Once again, many state drought teams noted that in areas where rain and snow fell, it wasn’t enough to increase moisture availability. In areas where it didn’t, such as the Southwest, the conditions either didn’t yet warrant additional degradations or, because they were already in exceptional drought (D4), could not be degraded further. Snowpack and snow-water equivalent are well below normal and soils are dry. Ranchers have noted that natural forage is insufficient or depleted."
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