Recent Rain Storms Provide Little Relief to California's Drought

While the rain had little overall effect on the state’s worst drought on record, it had a series of short-term benefits

Rainfall in parts of the Southern California last weekend provided a brief respite from California's dry spell, but provided little in terms of long-term benefits for areas affected by drought.

Showers were not widespread enough to provide substantial drought relief, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report. Rain also mainly fell outside of California’s key watersheds in the Colorado River Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, officials said.

This animation shows severe drought conditions in California since the end of 2013.

Instead, the rain was centered in places like Mt. Baldy where it created mudslides and fatal flash floods. Both Los Angeles and San Bernardino County officials declared states of emergencies in the aftermath of the storms.

The rainfall also did not soak into the drought-parched soils at a high enough rate.

While the rain had little overall effect on the state's worst drought on record, officials said it had short-term benefits that included lower temperatures during this year's scorching summer and decreased irrigation needs for farmers. 

But "exceptional" drought conditions contined across a widespread part of the state. The weekly Drought Monitor report categorizes drought severity into abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).


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Levels of "exceptional" drought remained steady, with more than 58 percent of California suffering under the conditions. The number represents a significant increase from January when none of the state was under the "exceptional" drought category.

[GALLERY UPDATED 8/27] Dramatic Photos of California's Drought

Previously, the most severe conditions had been limited to the Central Valley and Central Coast, but last week's report for the first time showed spread of "exceptional" drought in Northern California.

Statewide regulations approved in July by the state water resources board include a $500-per-day fine for residents who waste water. Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a statewide drought emergency earlier this year, has asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent.

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