Drought Conditions Worsen
updated: Jan 30, 2014, 1:02 PM
Source: SBC Fire Department
Drought Conditions Worsen for Sections of California -
According to the National Weather Service, the latest US Drought Monitor released this morning, now depicts portions of California as being in "exceptional" (D4) drought. This is the worst drought category on the Drought Monitor and the first time it's been used in California since this monitoring system started in 2000. Santa Barbara County is at Drought Impact Level D3 Extreme Drought.
The degradation was made due to historically low rainfall amounts so far this winter, long term precipitation deficits stretching several years, and a growing number of increasingly significant drought impacts. In addition, 67% of California is now covered by D3/D4 conditions, also the highest since the Drought Monitor began.
While rain is currently falling across many areas of California, it is not expected to provide much beyond temporary short term drought relief. For drought improvements to occur, a very persistent wet pattern of at least moderate precipitation intensity is needed. This is not a very high probability based on the current outlooks for the next two weeks, month of February, and next three months. Note that during the heart of winter, much of central and northern California, especially in the mountains, average 2-4 inches of rain each week, anything less than that means deficits will continue to grow. The rain this week will simply be a pause in the continually worsening conditions.
Fire danger levels for Santa Barbara County remain high. Live fuel moisture levels remain at critical levels; however they are slowly starting to rise. Even as live fuel moistures begin to rise, wind can overcome elevated fuel moistures and create rapid rates of fire spread. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department urges people to use caution in the coming months.
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