The latest Drought Monitor Report was released this morning and most of Kern County, including all of the valley, has now been upgraded to “moderate” drought status. The last update a couple weeks ago only had the Kern River Valley region in that ranking.
According to the report, "Westward D1 expansion into the San Francisco Bay area and Mendocino County, northward D1 expansion into Trinity and Shasta Counties, and southwestward D1 expansion into San Luis Obispo County in California was warranted in association with the continuance of a much drier-than-normal water year to date (since October 1, 2019; WYTD). Many areas are seeing WYTD precipitation of 25 to 50 percent of normal and YTD precipitation 10 to 25 percent of normal. Some locations near San Francisco saw no precipitation for the month of February. However, reservoir levels are in good shape overall across California, despite the below normal snowpack. In addition, there have been several reports of non-managed creeks and streams running dry and severe lack of vegetation, resulting in producers supplementing feed for livestock. In addition, much of the state has seen above normal temperatures over the past week, further exacerbating the dryness and reducing longevity of existing snowpack. D1 was also expanded in central and southwestern Oregon, as stream flow conditions have continued to deteriorate, precipitation was lacking, and snowpack was below normal. Many unregulated rivers have fallen below the 10th percentile (much below-normal). WYTD precipitation deficits are greater than 12 inches across much of southwestern Oregon, including coastal areas. In contrast, Washington’s March 3 basin average SWC was above normal, and has received above normal precipitation over the past 30 days, mainly concentrated in areas with no drought, but this added to the snowpack and near-normal stream flows in drought areas, leading to status quo this week. The Four Corners Region is also status quo this week as the last 14 days has seen enough precipitation to prevent deterioration, but not enough for improvement. Some D0 expansion in Montana in favor of the 90 day SPI. Some D1 expansion in western Utah into Millard County, which has seen 5 to 10 percent of normal precipitation over the past 90 days."