You'd think after the rains of this winter that the drought might be completely behind us, but it is not — and, counterintuitively, much of the Bay Area is still officially "abnormally dry" by federal Drought Monitor standards.
But the latest update from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that a little more than half of California is now out of drought status — an improvement on the last map from late January from which we learned that all parts of the state had emerged from "extreme" and "exceptional" drought status.
Some parts of the desert in SoCal, in and around the Inland Empire, remain in moderate to severe drought status, as does a swath of north-central California, but the improvement since September is considerable, as shown below.
A majority of the state is now either drought-free (white), or merely "abnormally dry" (yellow), and the areas where some drought conditions persist are shrinking.
These maps, which are updated weekly, come to us from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which functions under the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The map authors noted the Pacific low-pressure systems of the past week, saying, "The weather systems dropped copious amounts of rain and snow across the West, especially over the Sierra and coastal ranges and Rocky Mountains."
"The rain has improved California soil moisture and streamflow levels, while the snow has increased mountain snowpack to much above-normal levels," the Drought Monitor scientists write. "Most California reservoirs have refilled with water levels near or above average, but groundwater levels remain low and may take months to recover."
Also, per the Drought Monitor, "central California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills are now free of drought and abnormal dryness for the first time since January 2020."
So, good news! And perhaps there will be more to come, given that long-range forecasts have us possibly getting rained on well into April.