STOCKTON — This rainy winter is helping parts of California emerge from its epic drought. In fact, slivers of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties are drought-free, according to a U.S. drought monitoring agency.
A year ago, the entire state was under some degree of drought. As of Jan. 24, 38.73 percent is drought-free. Those areas include the Bay Area and all of California north of Sacramento.
The north and western edges of San Joaquin County are now categorized as “abnormally dry.” The rest is in “moderate drought.”
In Stanislaus County, the western edge is “abnormally dry,” while the rest of the county remains in “moderate drought.”
A year ago, both counties and more than 40 percent of the state were under the most extreme category of “exceptional drought.”
The agency said that according to the San Joaquin precipitation index (an average across the region), January was the wettest ever observed in 112 years of record, and four- to five-year precipitation totals climbed dramatically from approximately the 2 percentile level as of early January to around the 20th percentile through this week.
The statewide average snowpack (snow water equivalent) is almost twice normal for late January. In the southern Sierra Nevada it’s twice the normal amount. In fact, amounts actually exceed those typically recorded April 1, the agency said.
Groundwater is not recovering as dramatically, however, and remain critically low.