After years in which California appeared to be a candidate for a century or more of drought, and areas in Texas, Oklahoma and northern Georgia had droughts bad enough to affect the local economies, America is finally free of the worst measure of drought, based on the official definition.
Among the five levels of drought designated by the U.S. Drought Monitor, “exceptional drought” is the worst. It is defined by two measures:
- Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses
- Shortages of water in reservoirs, streams and wells creating water emergencies
No single part of America has this level of drought problem.
At one point, over half of California suffered from drought at this level. California no longer has any land that carries the “exceptional drought” designation. As a matter of fact, over 76% of California is drought free. A year ago, the number was less than 5%, which shows the effects of recent massive rain storms. On a similar scale, 90% of Texas is drought free, as is 42% of Oklahoma. The only areas of the nation with significant drought problems are northern Georgia and northeast South Carolina. These areas are relatively small.
Eleven states are free of any level of drought. These include Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
One lesson to take from the sharp drop in drought is the trouble with long-term rain and drought forecasts. Last year a UCLA study reported that the California drought could last for centuries. A University of California study in 2014 said the drought in the state could persist for 200 years.
Instead of more proof of dire predictions, the drought in California is nearly gone. And exceptional drought is gone in America.