'Exceptional' Drought Improves Only 2 Percent After California Storms - NBC 7 San Diego

'Exceptional' Drought Improves Only 2 Percent After California Storms

More than 42 percent of California remains under exceptional drought after last week's El Niño-influenced storms

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Parts of drought-stricken California saw only minor improvement this week after a series of storms marched through the region.

    This week's California Drought Monitor shows only a 2 percent improvement to the exceptional drought category -- the most severe -- in Northern California following storms that brought rain and snow to the state. Water reservoirs remain below normal as the state's hopes for a degree of drought recovery hinge on the effects of a strong El Niño.

    "Even with the rain and snow received over the last several weeks, many areas are still running below normal for precipitation and snow for the current water year," according to the weekly report. "Wells, reservoirs, ground water, and soil moisture are all recovering slowly, which is to be expected after three-plus years of drought."

    The warming of Pacific waters influences weather conditions around the globe and could mean a wetter-than-normal winter for California.

    The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday Jan. 14, 2016.
    Photo credit: US Drought Monitor

    More than 42 percent of California remains under exceptional drought. That figure is down by about 4 percentage points since the start of the water year at the end of September.

    More than 87 percent of California remains under severe drought.

    Recovery is expected to be slow and require much more rain and snowfall, according to the report. Northern California could see more precipitation in the coming week.

    "Remember, it took many years to get here," said NBC4 forecaster Crystal Egger. "We need to see more storms coming into our state over the next several months. We will put a dent in our drought if we keep up with that storm track to our north."

    The storms dump snow on the Sierra Nevada Mountains that melts and runs off in spring, flowing into reservoirs.