Much of Southern California is once again in a drought and there is little relief in sight, a report by the United States Drought Monitor revealed.
About 44 percent of California was in drought Thursday, up from 12 percent last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. As of this week, all of San Diego County and most of Los Angeles County has been elevated from an "abnormally dry" category to a "moderate drought" category.
The drought's effect on wildfires in the Southern California region was a factor in the "moderate drought" designation. Levels are determined by measurements of climate, hydrologic and soil conditions and their impact on the region.
A portion of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are under a harsher "severe drought" level, due to long-term rain deficits, the report said. No parts of California were under the highest levels of drought, though, according to the report.
NBC 7 Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh said Thursday the latest data was unfortunate but not entirely surprising. Southern California has not received any significant rainfall in months and is not likely to see any before the drier winter months begin.
"It’s not good news for our area, but it’s nothing too surprising," Kodesh said in NBC 7’s First Alert Forecast Thursday. “We've been so dry; we haven’t had any rain. This has been a record-dry year for us.”
To date, San Diego has received less than half of the season’s normal rainfall amounts. The National Weather Service (NWS) said low rainfall has contributed to the region's current drought status.
"The dryness this week was a continuation of severely dry conditions which have persisted for the last 3 to 4 months across much of the Southwest to southern Plains," The NWS service said. "Temperatures during the last three months have been well above average for much of the Southwest, including California, and this has increased evaporative demand which tends to dry out vegetation, soils, and water resources faster than under normal temperature conditions."
The San Diego County Water Authority told NBC 7 that they are prepared for a drought and that the county's water supply levels are stable.
"With water resources so heavily managed, California is able to weather droughts reasonably well," the Drought Monitor said.
At this point, the moderate drought designation will not impact San Diego County resident's water usage, but the report will allow local officials to better prepare for any changes that need to be made.
It is likely drought levels will increase as the dry season progresses, Kodesh said.