Speed Reads

Finally some good news

After 5 years, northern California's drought is over

There's an upside to inclement winter weather, northern California is realizing: It can end historic, punishing droughts.

On Thursday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist David Miskus declared that "the drought is over in northern California," as this week's U.S. Drought Monitor showed less than 60 percent of California was experiencing drought. Currently, 42 percent of the state is classified as not experiencing drought conditions, a huge improvement from the just 3 percent that was drought-less this time last year. This is the first time since 2013 that so little of the state is experiencing an active drought.

The progress comes thanks to "a series of relentless storms this winter," The Mercury News reports, which helped return "nearly all of northern California from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Oregon border ... to normal water conditions." Northern California experienced heavy storms this past week, and has been deluged with wet weather throughout the winter.

Still, the Golden State is not out of the woods yet: Drought conditions are still severe in southern California, with Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and parts of Los Angeles County in the most dire straits. Officials say the state's future hinges on snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which provides water to the state during the warmer seasons; this winter's storms boosted the snowpack "to 158 percent of normal," the Los Angeles Times reports, making a "significant dent" in the state's years-long drought, though there are still "serious water woes to the south."