After the historic winter of 2022-23, California has made a remarkable recovery from drought conditions. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest update, no one in the state is currently living in a drought area, a significant improvement from previous months when thousands were affected. And with El Nino on the way, the state’s water outlook may continue to improve.
In August, approximately 903,000 people were still in drought areas. In the months since, the situation has improved drastically, with 0% of California now experiencing “moderate drought,” down from 0.07% in mid-October.
Only about 6% of the state, including parts of Del Norte, Siskiyou, Modoc, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties, remains “abnormally dry” as of October 31. This is a significant improvement from the 25% to 32% range observed from May to mid-August.
California is completely drought-free statewide for the first time in over 3 years.— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) November 6, 2023
California has been free from “severe,” “extreme,” and “exceptional” drought conditions since April, with only a brief spike to 0.24% on September 19, which quickly decreased to less than 0.1% one week later.
The state’s prospects for relief appear promising as winter approaches. El Niño, which is making its way through the northern equatorial region of the Earth, is expected to bring wet conditions to most of California.
The U.S. Geological Survey warns that this relief may be temporary. NOAA’s seasonal outlook suggests a 33% to 50% chance of above-normal winter temperatures, with “equal” chances of above-normal, near-normal, or below-normal rainfall in the southernmost part of the state, making it uncertain how much rain California will receive this winter.