California is rapidly plunging back into drought, with severe conditions now existing in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties—home to one-fourth of the state’s population, a national drought monitor said Thursday.
The weekly report released by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a project of government agencies and other partners, also shows 44 percent of the state is now considered to be in a moderate drought. It’s a dramatic jump from just last week, when the figure was 13 percent.
“It’s not nearly where we’d like to be,” Frank Gehrke, a state official, acknowledged after separately carrying out manual measurements of winter snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which supplies water to millions of Californians in a good, wet year.
Overall, the vital snowpack Thursday stood at less than a third of normal for the date.