SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Bay Area’s drought conditions are improving.

Over two weeks ago, the Bay Area was completely in the ‘extreme’ category, as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor, then most parts moved to the lesser ‘severe’ category on Dec. 30.

As of Thursday, the entire Bay Area moved to the ‘severe’ drought category, according to a map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The map also shows most of California has moved to ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’ conditions and out of the ‘exceptional’ drought category.

” After two years of significant rainfall deficit, this year, so far, for the water year by the way the water year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. This year for the water year around the Bay Area, we’re sitting in the 150% to 200% of normal thus far,” meteorologist Brian Garcia, with the National Weather Service, said. “This is something that we typically see. The question now is do we roll back into a wet pattern as we get towards the end of Jan. and into Feb.”

The severe drought category, as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor, means the following:

  • Fire season is longer, with high burn intensity, dry fuels, and large fire spatial extent; more fire crews are on staff
  • Trees are stressed; plants increase reproductive mechanisms; wildlife diseases increase
  • Water temperature increases; programs to divert water to protect fish begin
  • River flows decrease; reservoir levels are low and banks are exposed

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The Bay Area’s drought conditions improved after a series of storms and heavy rain during the holiday weeks at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

Water restrictions are still in place for several Bay Area counties.

“When we did put water restrictions, we didn’t quite hit our targets for desired levels of reductions,” professor Katherine Cushing said.

Katherine Cushing is a professor of environmental studies at San Jose State University.

“About 50% of water goes to outdoor irrigation so if we think a little bit more strategically about making our outdoor irrigation needs fit the climate of the area, we can actually save up to 50% of all residential water use,” Cushing said.