California relieves much from drought conditions
The latest data released by the U.S. Drought Monitor Thursday showed that California has relieved much from drought conditions with no region of D3 (Extreme Drought) or D4 (Exceptional Drought) on map.
Comparing to last week's map, a large piece of the state along the Pacific coastline, including most of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, were considered "abnormally dry," or D2 level.
Parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and Imperial counties had also emerged from drought conditions in recent weeks, and Humboldt and Del Norte counties in Northern California were looking especially good, the U.S. Drought Monitor said.
Just one month ago, more than a third of the most populous state in the United States was in extreme or exceptional drought.
However, the major improvement in drought conditions along the California coast brought new challenges to the state as it had seen more than 600 landslides since the start of the year.
A series of winter storms from late December to early January caused flooding and triggered mudslides, especially in mountain regions stretching along Highway 1 where wildfires left scores of burn scars in recent years.
Highway 1 remains closed in parts of Big Sur as crews work to repair damage caused by three major slides three weeks ago. On Wednesday, local authorities said portions of the Big Sur community face long-term isolation due to the road closure.
"Residents, property owners, and tourists 'shall not' attempt to pass thru the slide areas on and around State Route 1 in Big Sur. It is very unsafe, the ground is unstable and the threat of potential loss of life is real," a statement read.
In the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range that lies in California running 640 kilometers north-south, the water content of the snowpack in the North is 220 percent of normal as of Thursday, while in the Southern Sierra, it's 260 percent of normal to date.
The snowpack supplies roughly a third of California's water when it melts and runs off into rivers and reservoirs.
Some reservoirs saw significant rises in water levels but there are still significant deficits to overcome. The largest reservoir in the state, Shasta Lake, the water level on Thursday is 985.29 feet (300.31 meters), almost 100 feet (30.48 meters) higher than in last October, but it is still 81.71 feet (24.91 meters) below full pool of 1,067.00 (325.22 meters).
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