99% of Bay Area, 64% of California is drought-free after winter storms

ByDrew Tuma and Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, March 17, 2023 1:17AM
99% of Bay Area, 64% of California is drought-free after winter storms
EMBED <>More Videos

The new drought monitor shows major improvements locally and statewide, with the best Bay Area conditions since February 2020.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The latest drought monitor is out Thursday morning with major improvements in the San Francisco Bay Area and California.

Ninety-nine percent of the Bay Area is now drought-free which is the best condition since February 2020. Dry conditions remain in portions of Sonoma, Napa, and Lake Counties.

Statewide, California is now 64% drought-free, up from just 1% of the state at the start of the water year on Oct 1, 2022.

The 36% of the state that's currently in some sort of drought category is down from 43% last week and 49% the week before. At the start of our winter nearly 100% of the state was in some category of drought.

The improvements come after the series of atmospheric rivers that battered California causing flooding and damage.

Jon Gottschalk with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center spoke to ABC News Thursday morning where he described three factors that have led to California's abnormal rainfall in what was supposed to be a La Niña year.

Gottschalk says first the jetstream set up a bit further south and closer to us than it normally would in a La Niña year.

VIDEO: Is 2023 Bay Area's worst storm season? Here's what experts say

Secondly, the Madden-Julian oscillation phenomenon. It was in a favorable position for California to see enhanced rainfall.

Third, as the climate warms the atmosphere can hold more moisture, which in turn means more rainfall.

Officials in Santa Rosa say they've received so much rain since October, they're officially calling an end to their ongoing drought emergency.

"For Santa Rosa, we no longer need to implement our water storage plan we don't need water storage emergencies," said Santa Rosa Water Department Director Jennifer Burke.

Burke says she never thought she'd say that but this week after 33 inches of rainfall since Oct. 1, the city canceled its drought emergency plan, which had asked the community to reduce water usage by 20%.

MORE: Has CA hit the all-time state snow record? Here's where we stand

"We now have four years of water supply in place, great news," said Burke.

Santa Rosa gets most of its water from the Lake Sonoma reservoir.

Last Fall water levels were the lowest in history. On Thursday, the reservoir is essentially full.

The lake hasn't been this high since June 2019," said Chris Schooley from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Schooley says there's so much water, releases have begun on the dam's spillway to make room for more rainfall expected next week.

MORE: Watering restrictions lifted for 7 million Southern Californians amid wet winter

"I've seen an incredible pendulum swing from the lowest low to rising 70 feet in a short period of time," said Schooley.

"I think some people are feeling like the drought is over, I know everybody will be so thankful water restrictions are done even though some people pulled up their grass," Trumper said.

Despite the abundant water supply, officials are still urging residents to use water wisely and efficiently.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live