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Latest Drought Monitor Report shows no improvement in the drought... for now

Kern County remains in Moderate Drought ranking
Posted at 5:38 AM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 09:04:31-05

There is no change in Kern County's ranking of moderate drought, according to this morning's latest report from the Drought Monitor.

As we reported last week, Kern County's portion of the San Joaquin Valley had improved from the ranking of Severe (D2) to Moderate (D1) thanks to ample precipitation over the past month. Even though we had some rain in the last week (0.35") it wasn't enough to drop us down to the lowest rank of drought, which is Abnormally Dry (D0).

February's rain has made for a total of 6.14" this water year (which began on October 1st). Our average is 6.47" and we still have until September to hit that mark! So we're doing great so far, and that's why we're seeing such recovery in the drought.

As of last week, the California Department of Water Resources had reported the Sierra snowpack statewide was more than 100% of the April 1 average and 174% of normal for the date (February 1). Despite improvements across much of the state, the longer-term impacts of the drought are still being observed in relation to groundwater supplies in various California locations.

This morning's report reads: "During the past week, a series of storms bringing widespread rain and snow showers impacted the states along the Pacific Coast and northern Rockies. In California, the cumulative effect of several months of abundant precipitation has significantly improved drought conditions across the state. Nearly all of California’s major reservoirs are currently above historical average levels with the state’s two largest reservoirs, Oroville and Shasta, currently at 126% and 124%, respectively. To date, the statewide percent of normal snow water equivalent sits at an impressive 176%, according to the California Cooperative Snow Surveys. Heavy snowfall this week in the Sierra led to improvements on the map in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), and Severe Drought (D2). Along the central Coast, continued heavy rains in the Santa Lucia Range led to improvements in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), and Severe Drought (D2) where streamflows and soil moisture levels are above normal. Along the southern California coast, one-category improvements were made in areas of Severe Drought (D2) where a wide variety of drought indicators (Palmer Drought Severity Index, Standardized Precipitation Index, streamflow activity, soil moisture levels, drought impact reports) at various timescales (30 days to 2 years) led to improvements in an area extending from southern Ventura County to San Diego County. In Santa Barbara and northern Ventura counties, an area of Extreme Drought (D3) has remained in place as local reservoirs and groundwater levels have been lagging behind other indicators as a result of the cumulative effect of significant long-term precipitation deficits. The Municipal Water District of Orange County (as of February 6, 2017) declared an end to the drought emergency."

You can read today's full Drought Report update here.

But even with all this improvement, Wednesday state politicians voted to extend water conservation efforts under Governor Brown’s drought declaration (issued on 1/17/14). That's because we have don't know if we still have several years of dry weather ahead, and there are still regions of the state experiencing drought conditions.

There is much more rain on the way, with an Atmospheric River event bringing flooding rains to Kern County for much of the day Friday, and a Pacific storm behind it bringing more rain and some snow down to 6,000 feet in our local mountains Saturday. Check out the full forecast and the timing of those storms here.

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