New numbers show drought conditions easing slightly statewide

Extreme drought is down, but Coachella Valley still in severe drought along with 90% of state

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A winter storm that brought California a healthy dose of rain and snow at the first of the month helped avoid a record-breaking season of dryness. 

The U.S Drought Monitor reports the two storms accounted for more than 75 percent of the season-to-date precipitation in much of the state.

The storms left downtown Los Angeles with a seasonal rainfall total that was 49 percent of normal, or 40 percent of normal in Burbank.

Extreme drought dropped about 8 percent, while exceptional drought dropped by 4 percent.

According to the Drought Monitor, 90 percent of the state remains in a severe drought, which includes Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

The storms benefited much of the California coast, and some northern areas of the state.   The three days of rain led to a modest reduction in the coverage of extreme to exceptional drought.

The storms short-term benefits, however were not able to overcome three-year precipitation deficits, low reservoir levels, and a small mountain snowpack.

The California Department of Water Sources reported a slight improvement in the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

The snow's water content increased by 33 percent of normal by March 5.   It had averaged just 5 inches, or 22 percent of normal, before  the two storms hit.  

On March 5, it climbed to 8 inches, enough to reduce extreme drought conditions to what's considered exceptional drought.

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