California Drought Improves, a Little

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A look at the drought map for California shows a slight improvement. A small portion of the state has posted an improvement in conditions. The improvement is modest, but it is a start. California has begun to get some relief.

The most recent edition of the U.S. Drought Monitor reported:

At the same time, California’s December rainfall left winter wheat rated 80 percent in good to excellent condition on December 28, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, California’s rangeland and pastures still have a long recovery ahead of them; they were rated 70 percent poor to fair by USDA on December 28, up only slightly from 65 percent on November 23. Due to heavy rain in extreme northwestern California (and adjacent areas in southwestern Oregon), there was some slight trimming of drought coverage.

The terms “good to excellent” and “slight trimming of drought coverage” have not been part of the assessment of California for a long time.

A look at the drought map of California shows that while the worst ratings of “exceptional drought” and “extreme drought” still cover most of the state, in the southernmost and northernmost sections the rating has dropped to “abnormally dry” and “moderate drought,” which are a departure from the worst conditions.

Most of inland California, home to some of the highest unemployment in the country, still suffers from such a massive shortage of water that the critical agriculture industry may not recover soon, perhaps not for years.

However, it will not take much rain or melting snow from mountains in California for the damage to small parts of the state to abate. The National Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Bureau recently pointed out the “capacity of Lake Shasta” has improve from 23% to 31% during the early weeks of December. The organization also pointed out that the lake is one of the largest reservoirs in the state.

A creeping recovery from the worst drought in California for decades has started. While the progress may be short term, it might instead be the beginning of a small relief.

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