For the first time in a year, a small portion of Kern County, including Frazier Park, along with the Angeles National Forest has been upgraded to Severe Drought status.
The Drought Monitor report was updated this morning, saying that dry weather in the west for the last half a year has slowly expanded our drought status. More than 24 million Californians are now affected by the new drought, and as of last week that started including all of Kern County. But compared to last week's report, when only 3.5 percent of Kern County was ranked higher than the lowest level of Abnormally Dry status, now 99.86 percent of the county is considered to be in Moderate or Severe Drought. The last time 100 percent of Kern County was ranked in a drought status higher than Abnormally Dry was a year ago on February 7, 2017.
Today's full report by NOAA's Richard Heim can be read here, but below I have included the sections that are relevant to Kern County:
"Temperatures during the last three months have been well above average for much of the Southwest, including California, and this has increased evaporative demand which tends to dry out vegetation, soils, and water resources faster than under normal temperature conditions. The increased evaporation, combined with low precipitation, has helped expand drought in the Southwest."
"With water resources so heavily managed, California is able to weather droughts reasonably well. Severe meteorological dryness can impact landscape and rangeland conditions while water supply conditions may be much better off. This makes it difficult to assess drought impacts. While some reservoirs (such as Diamond Valley in Riverside County) are nearly full, the D1 [Moderate] in southern California was expanded more to reflect long-term deficits and ties in to the growing risk of wildfires. Low mountain snowpack and water-year-to-date (October 1, 2017 to present) precipitation values prompted expansion of D0 [Abnormally Dry] expansion in northern California. According to the California State Climatologist, an 8-station index used for northern California monitoring registered right at D0 [Abnormally Dry] levels of dryness. D2 [Severe] was added to southern California to reflect long-term precipitation deficits in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties."