Have California drought conditions improved this week? Here’s the latest update

California’s string of heavy rainstorms in January continue to provide temporary relief to the state’s chronically dry land.

Drought conditions across the golden state have either improved or remained the same compared to one week ago. The U.S. Drought Monitor, in a weekly update published Thursday, reports the state remains free of both “extreme” or “exceptional” drought for the second week in a row.

California’s Central Coast, which was devastated by the severe storms, has exited moderate drought conditions and is now “abnormally dry.” In the northwest corner of the state, the majority of Del Norte County is drought free for at least the second the week in a row.

Significant amounts of both rainfall and snow in January, the U.S. Drought Monitor wrote in a Thursday statement, have led to “abnormal dryness and drought improvements” including:

  • Soil moisture

  • Streamflow

  • Reservoirs levels

  • Snowpack levels

Is California still in drought?

A move in the needle, while it may be consistent, means all that rain has temporally improved drought conditions.

Roughly 99.4% of California remains at least “abnormally dry,” while majority of the state or nearly 89.6% of the land is in “moderate drought” status. About 32.6% of the area is in “severe” drought.

This week’s numbers show improvement compared to last week.

While “abnormally dry” conditions status didn’t fluctuate from 99.36%, “moderate” conditions decreased more than two points. Better news: “Severe drought” status decreased more than 10 points.

The data used in this interactive map, collected from the U.S. Drought Monitor, was updated Thursday. Here are the drought conditions in California. See where your area lands:


Between Dec. 26 and Jan. 17, National Weather Service wrote on its Twitter page, California absorbed an average of 11.47 inches of rainfall. At least 15 feet of snow fell in the Sierra Nevada.

According to the Department of Water Resources, 49 stations in the Central Sierra Nevada are reporting at 217% of normal on Thursday.

Peak snow season is generally on April 1. As of Thursday, snowpack throughout California is 130% of average.

When will it rain again in California?

California has taken a much need break from the rainy weather — but it will return.

Northern California, the National Weather Service wrote on its twitter page, typically sees up to a quarter of an inch of rain the first week February. Meteorologists predict the region could see above the normal rainfall amount.

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