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El Nino helps alleviate U.S. drought

drought monitor u.s. 2-9-16The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows the percentage of the country in drought is down to 15 percent.

USDA chief meteorologist Brad Rippey says stormy weather in many parts of the country—in part driven by a strong El Nino—has significantly reduced drought coverage since last fall.

“Since we reached a late summer-early autumn peak of about 35 percent of the country in drought—that being back in mid-October—we’ve seen a drop of almost 20 percentage points in that drought coverage,” Rippey says.

Rippey says that represents the smallest areal coverage of U.S. drought in more than five years.  He says most of the remaining drought is in the far West.

“If you look at the eleven western states, we still see more than one-third covered by drought—but that is down from 57 percent in early October, which is the beginning of the western water year,” he says.

Ninety-five percent of California remains in drought.  However, the percentage of the state in the exceptional and extreme drought categories has declined from 71 to 61 percent since last fall.

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