Of­fi­cials: More than 40 per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia out of drought

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FACTS & FIGURES -

SAN FRAN­CISCO — More than 40 per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia is out of drought, fed­eral drought-watch­ers said Thurs­day at the tail end of pow­er­ful storms that sent thou­sands of peo­ple fleeing from flood­ing rivers in the north, un­leashed bur­bling wa­ter­falls in south- ern deserts, and dou­bled the vi­tal snow­pack in the Sierra Ne­vada in lit­tle more than a week.

Declar­ing Cal­i­for­nia as a whole to be past its of­fi­cial three-year drought emer­gency will be up to Gov. Jerry Brown, who will prob­a­bly wait un­til the end of the win- ter rain and snow sea­son to make that de­ci­sion.

But for peo­ple in north­ern cities such as Sacra­mento, where state work­ers opened flood gates to ease pres­sure on lev­ees for the first time in a dozen years, re­leas­ing a two-mile-wide tor­rent of ex­cess wa­ter from the surg- ing Sacra­mento River, the call on declar­ing the dry spell over in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia looked much clearer.

“It’s hard to say we have a drought here right now,” said Jay Lund, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Wa­ter­shed Sciences at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis.

Lund spoke as he re­turned from tak­ing stu­dents to see the wrenched-open, cen­tu­ry­old flood gates in Sacra­mento, which got its heav­i­est rain in 20 years this week.

The weekly drought re­port by fed­eral and aca­demic wa­ter ex­perts showed 42 per­cent of the state had emerged from drought. This time last year, only 3 per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia was out of drought.

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, which is also re­ceiv­ing wel­come rain from the storms, re­mains in drought but ex­pe­ri­enced a dra­matic re­duc­tion in sever­ity.

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