California Is Drought-Free For the First Time in Over Seven Years

Yay! Green grass where there was once burnt dryness.
Yay! Green grass where there was once burnt dryness.
Photo: AP

For the first time since 2011, the entire state of California is free of drought.


The U.S. Drought Monitor released new information on the state’s drought levels Thursday. The entire state is drought free, although “abnormally dry” conditions persist in nearly 7 percent of the state, per the Drought Monitor. That’s quite a shift from even three months ago, when much of the state was in severe drought.

Californians can thank all that record-breaking rain they’ve been getting. While multiple atmospheric rivers have led to some wild-ass floods and landslides, these rain events have also helped add water to the soil and built up the state’s snowpack. This winter was the wettest on record across the country—and the western U.S. definitely got more than its fair share.

In the south and north, some dryness persists. San Diego County reservoirs have only hit 65 percent capacity.

Regardless, this is news to celebrate. Remember when state water reservoirs were so empty that they barely looked like reservoirs at all? Or when pools became the ultimate luxury? Community members reliant on private water wells suffered on a whole other level; their taps ran dry.

Unfortunately, drought will inevitably return to the state eventually. And severe drought will likely become more frequent in a warmer world. So will the wildfires that these dry conditions help rev up.


Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.


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The Drought Monitor, run out of University of Nebraska Lincoln, is why we all should be proud to be Americans. The greatest mashup of meteorology, hydrology, soil science, agriculture, stuff NASA/NOAA does, and something else known to humans. Speaking of which, why does University of Nebraska have a big red “N” on its football field? It stands for knowledge.

Seriously, services like Drought Monitor are part of what some folks (mostly republicans) broad brush as wasted efforts by the “administrative state.” You’d think a dust bowl and depression would have kept folks interested in government science for at least 100 years. Check out what the White House budget proposal offers to cut for FY 2020. Not good. Science is a mashup of sciences - a web of knowledges (if that’s a word).

End of sermon.