In just two weeks, the state’s drought situation saw notable improvement. The worst classification, “exceptional drought,” was completely wiped off the map.
While the vast majority of California – 97.9%, to be exact – is still experiencing some magnitude of drought, two tiny slivers are nearly in the clear.
In the far northern and far southern reaches of the state are two areas shaded in yellow, meaning they are only “abnormally dry” – not technically in a drought.
Up north along the California-Oregon border is Del Norte County, with a population around 28,000 and lots of lush coastal redwood forest. The county ranks highest for annual precipitation, with an average of 95 wet days per year, so it’s no big surprise to see it out of the drought soonest.
More surprising is the situation on California’s southern border, where parts of Imperial and Riverside counties are also not in a drought. Those two counties, marked by their desert landscape, rank lowest for annual days of rain in the state.
This year, the area saw some monsoonal late summer storms, which started to help them out. Things got even better over the last month as the number of people living in a drought area in Imperial County shrank by about 50%, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Still, those areas aren’t totally in the clear. There are no parts of California that are shaded in white – the lowest classification, below “abnormally dry.”
The latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor only includes data collected through Tuesday, so it doesn’t show any effects of the most recent storm that drenched much of the state starting Wednesday. As new data is collected, we may see the drought shrink even more on next week’s map.