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California is drought-free for the first time in nearly a decade

Pedestrians cross First Street in Boyle Heights as rain clouds partially obscure the downtown L.A. skyline on March 6. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

California

It’s official: California is 100% drought-free.

For the first time since 2011, the state shows no areas suffering from prolonged drought and illustrates almost entirely normal conditions, according to a map released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in 2017 that lifted the drought emergency in most of the state, leaving some breathing a sigh of relief. But he cautioned Californians to keep saving water as some parts of the state were still suffering from extreme drought.

Now, two years later, that deficit seems to have been erased, thanks to an exceptionally wet winter.

“The reservoirs are full, lakes are full, the streams are flowing, there’s tons of snow,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “All the drought is officially gone.”

The Drought Monitor, which collects data from scientists from the National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and dozens of weather agencies, last showed a drought map that was clear in December 2011.

In updating the map, scientists consult with hydrologists, water managers, meteorologists and other experts to determine the amount of water in the state’s reservoirs, the snowpack level and other key measurements. With the wet winter streak going strong, their reports have been good.

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