Southern California benefits from rain as northwest drought grows

Record-breaking rains eliminated all traces of drought and abnormal dryness across Southern California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Record-breaking rains eliminated all traces of drought and abnormal dryness across Southern California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The series of wet weather also benefited the Central Coast through Monterey County. However, drought has worsened in northwestern California.

Overall, just over 58% of the state is experiencing abnormal dryness or the first two stages of drought, down from more than 75% at the start of April.

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But the monitor showed Thursday that the designation of severe drought has expanded over much of northwest California up into Oregon, while the balance of northern and central California has moderate drought or abnormal dryness.

No parts of the state are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought, according to the monitor.

A dry winter across California left the state abnormally parched earlier this year, prompting officials to brace for the possibility of a more intense wildfire season. Additionally, the month of February shaped up to be the driest February on record for much of the state.

RELATED: 70% of CA is abnormally dry after low-precipitation winter, drought monitor map shows

About 75% of California's annual precipitation typically occurs from December through February, mostly from what's known as atmospheric rivers - long plumes of moisture originating far out in the Pacific Ocean.

But just months ago, a high-pressure system parked in the Pacific blocked storms from reaching California and instead steered them to the Pacific Northwest.

Since then, the Southland has seen a series of storms, including last week when heavy rain slammed the region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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