Jesse Ferrell

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Did Last Week`s Rain Help California Drought?

February 19, 2009; 2:30 PM

UPDATE: This article says that the state may have to cut water to farmers, costing $1 billion and 40,000 jobs lost. Ken Clark will be talking about this more this weekend.

Some blog readers have asked: "Has the recent rain (and snow) in California helped the long-term drought there?" Well, it certainly seemed like the state got a lot of "liquid precipitation" (rain and the melted snow equivalent) over the last week:

But unfortunately the short answer is no, as the official U.S. Drought Monitor map only slightly shrunk drought areas between last week and this week (shown below). There was a 3 % decrease in the area experiencing Extreme Drought.

California doesn't hold a candle to Texas, however, which has 8.6% of the state in an "Exceptional Drought."

Everyone defines drought differently, and there are short-term droughts that affect your lawn, medium-term droughts which affect certain types of trees, and long-term droughts that affect water supplies. If you look at the month so far for California, a good bit of the state is above normal precipitation:

But if you look at 2009 so far, almost the entire state is below normal:

And the "water year" (since October 2008) is even worse:

This is just a quick look at some drought maps. More information is available from Western Expert Ken Clark (PREMIUM | PRO), our Western News Story (PREMIUM | PRO) for more detailed information.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.