CA drought just a memory now amid unusually cold, wet February

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It was not too long ago that the landscape of Southern California was littered with ugly patches of brown, dried-out vegetation and dark hillsides scarred by wildfires.

But most of the drought was washed away in February, which saw more than five-and-a-half inches of rain in downtown Los Angeles.

In fact, maps from the California Drought Monitor show a dramatic progression. Even from Jan. 1 to this week, the maps with the patches of yellow, orange and red indicating extreme drought have all been cleared away.

Across California, only a few patches at the southern and northern ends of the state are classified at the most mild type of drought - "abnormally dry."

By comparison, last February, the rain total was just a fraction of that - just three one-hundredths of an inch.

EMBED More News Videos

Leslie Lopez explains how the recent rains helped Los Angeles completely get out of the drought.

Though it's still early in the rain season, LA has already passed its average mark.

"We're actually ahead of our seasonal average over 15 inches total in downtown Los Angeles," said Mark Jackson with the National Weather Service.

All the rain has been painting our hillsides green.

Which, of course, is much preferred to the orange from when massive blazes like the Woolsey Fire ripped through the area, and to the black scars left behind on the hillsides afterward.

Vegetation is now starting to take root and help repair the fire-scarred slopes.
But that wet weather came with a chilly friend. This month is panning out to be the coldest average February in more than 55 years.

Downtown LA did not record a single day at the 70-degree mark in February. That's the first time this has happened since scientists started keeping temperatures records here back in 1877.

The coldest night downtown this month was 40 degrees. Still, that's relatively toasty compared to the all-time February low for the area - that was a bone-chilling 28 degrees in 1883.

And for anyone who thinks it's just been too darn cold - just wait a bit.

"I wouldn't complain if I were you," Jackson said. "Before you know it, when we get into July and August, I'm sure there might be more than a few people who will be wishing its going to be a high of 60 degrees again."
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.