Though a few parts of Southern California remain in a state of "moderate" or "severe" drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday that the vast majority of the state has now emerged from what had been "extreme" and "exceptional" drought conditions just a few months ago. As the Sacramento Bee reports, Northern California is officially drought-free, but the drought is not officially officially done until Governor Jerry Brown rescinds his drought emergency declaration from 2014. Also, the State Water Resources Control Board just voted two weeks ago to extend the statewide emergency water controls for another nine months, despite the epic rains and floods of the past two months.
That last bit may be confusing, given all the rain, but the water controls and usage rules that were enacted in 2015 have been lifted for many communities, and those still in place are not nearly as strict as they were. Also, Brown's administration tells the Sacramento Bee that the Drought Monitor reports don't adequately account for the "water deficit" that was created during our five-plus years of drought, "particularly in the state’s overpumped aquifers."
Also, it should be noted that it's still February, and the Drought Monitor gets updated weekly, and we've come a long way since early November, when 75 percent of the state remained in drought. 17 percent, or a change of 58 percent in three months, is a major hurdle.
So, qualifiers aside, the LA Times is declaring most of us out of the drought, and they note that the state water board is going to be revisiting their decision about usage rules in May once the rainy season is over.
The Monitor report also points to snowpack in the Sierra, which is a key factor in ending the drought, saying "As of February 21, the daily Sierra Nevada snowpack was 186% of average for the date and 151% of the April 1 climatological peak."
Reservoirs in Southern California, where drought conditions still exist per the above map, "still have a long way to go" they say. "As of February 22, Lake Cachuma was at 82,011 acre-feet, or 42.4% of capacity, Jameson Reservoir was at 52.5% capacity, Lake Casitas at 42.3%, and Lake Piru at 31.7%. These values still represent a significant hydrological drought."
Maybe Elon Musk can figure out how to pipe all our extra water from NorCal to SoCal and solve this thing.