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Exceptional And Extreme Drought Persists In California

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Boreal Mountain Resort was one of many California ski resorts that opened earlier than usual during winter 2015-16, after storms brought ample snow. A few northern Sierra ski areas planned to remain open into late-April and May 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor shows slight improvement in California’s drought last week even though there was "little or no precipitation."

"Improved reservoirs and surface moisture indicators led to the removal of exceptional drought (in favor of D3 - extreme drought) in the Sacramento Valley," according to the report released April 7.

Despite the improvement in the past week, significant drought remains in a large portion of the state, specifically, in central and southern California.

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“Drought improvement has been observed in significant parts of California this past wet season, but only a portion of northern California has been pulled completely out of drought, and large swaths of extreme to exceptional drought remain in Nevada and the southern half of California."

The Drought Monitor drought intensity levels are Abnormally Dry, Moderate, Severe, Extreme and Exceptional.

In California, only a small part of the extreme northwest, just 3.55 percent, is not in drought. But 96 percent remains abnormally dry, with 90 percent in moderate, 74 percent in severe, 55 percent in extreme and 31 percent in exceptional drought.

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There was some increase during the past week in moderate and severe drought in southern Nevada.

In Nevada, 93 percent of the state is abnormally dry, moderate drought covers 62 percent of the state, with 38 percent in severe drought.

But just 23 percent is in extreme drought. A year ago, nearly half (48 percent) of Nevada was in extreme drought. And this week, 6 percent of the state, in the extreme northeast corner, is not in drought.

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Looking ahead, the forecast calls for "moderate precipitation in much of California, with at least half an inch forecast everywhere but the southeastern deserts and west-central sections of the state, and locally 1.5 to 3.5 inches in the higher elevations statewide,” the report notes. "The southern half of Nevada and the higher elevations of Arizona are expecting 0.5 to locally 2.0 inches."

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