Wet California

In this Jan. 17, 2019 file photo, a pedestrians makes his way along a rain soaked Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. In just a matter of weeks, a very wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions in California as a series of storms coated mountains with heavy blankets of snow and unleashed drenching rains. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday that about a third of the state has no significant dryness and only about 10 percent of the state falls into categories of drought.

LOS ANGELES — In a matter of weeks, a very wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions that have plagued Cal­if­ornia.

A series of storms has coated mountains with blankets of snow and unleashed dren­ching rains that have even greened up landscapes recently blackened by wild­fires.

Here are things to know about the sud­denly soggy state:

Dwindling drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday that a large portion of the state including the Sierra Nevada, much of the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area is free of any significant dryness.

Heavy rain has also ended most of the moderate drought that stretched from the Central Coast to the southern tier of the state, leaving a lesser condition designated as abnormally dry, according to the monitor.

California’s south­west­ern corner, in­clu­ding all of San Diego County and por­tions of surrounding coun­ties, remain in moderate drought even though it has re­ceived more than the usual amount of rain to date. The monitor said sev­eral reservoirs are still at their lowest levels in at least a year, and in one case, as long as three years.

A relatively small area of moderate to severe drought persists along the Cal­if­or­nia-Oregon border.

By the numbers

More than 34% of the state now has no abnormal dryness or any of the four levels of drought, which are described as mod­erate, severe, extreme and ex­cep­tional.

Slightly more than half the state is considered abnormally dry and just 10.5% is either in moderate or extreme drought.

On Jan. 1, less than 8% of the state had no level of dryness or drought. Slight­ly more than 75% was in moderate, extreme or exceptional drought and the remainder was in the abnormally dry class­if­ication.

Sierra snowpack

Just before last week­end’s latest round of stormy weather, the California De­part­ment of Water Re­sour­ces conducted its second Sierra snowpack survey of the season and found it was 100% of normal, an important reading because it holds about a third of the state’s water supply.

Even more snow has fallen since, including stag­ger­ing amounts at lo­cations such as Mam­moth Mountain. Eleven feet of snow fell on its 11,053-foot summit over four days, bringing the season total to more than 32 feet, the resort said.

The emerald hills of L.A.

Rainfall totals this win­ter have been rather impressive.

Downtown Los Angeles, for example, has received nearly 13 inches of rain since the Oct. 1 start of the “water year.”

That’s more than 5 inches more than normal.

The result has been an explosion of verdant gras­ses across the state, including the Los An­gel­es region where the Med­iterranean climate usually expresses itself in shades of khaki and tan.

Swaths of bright green have even sprouted amid vast areas burned black by wildfires.

The storms have caused burn scars to belch mud and rocks that have blocked streets and highways, but so far have not led to a repeat of the kind of disastrous and deadly debris flows that smashed the community of Montecito last winter.

Too much?

Even with the high pre­cip­itation totals California has avoided major prob­lems because the storms have been spaced far enough apart and have not been overly intense, said Alex Tardy, a warning coor­dination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

Historically, there have been winters with high pre­cip­itation totals that did not cause problems, but soils are saturated and many of the big reservoirs are starting to fill up, he said.

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