It's a brand new day in California. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the state is finally out of a drought that lasted for nearly 7 and a half years.
The National Drought Mitigation Center said Thursday the Golden State had finally become free of drought for the first time since Dec. 20, 2011. However, officials caution that nearly 7 percent of the state remains "abnormally dry."
California has been beset by a series of winter storms, making it one of the wettest in the United States as a whole since records were first kept in 1895. California saw an average of 9.01 inches, 2.22 inches above the nationwide average. The above-average amount of precipitation helped build snow packs and rebuild reservoirs which had fallen to record lows during the height of the drought. The National Weather Service tweeted the wet February and March resulted in water year numbers "well above average."
In 2014, former Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency drought declaration and in 2015, ordered urban water users to reduce their use by 25 percent. The drought emergency was lifted in 2017 after a series of storms helped slate California's thirst, but a "moderate drought" condition remained until the recent rainfalls. The U.S. Forest Service said that between 2010 and 2016, more than 102 million trees in the state died as a result of the lack of rain.
However, the downpours, especially in areas burned by recent wildfires, triggered multiple mudslides and flooding. Last month, storms transformed a northern California town into an island, and caused millions in damage to highways in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles residents experienced the fifth-longest streak of below 70s temps, with snowfall even reported in parts of Los Angeles at one point in February.
All that rainfall has resulted in spectacular super blooms of poppies and wildflowers in areas like Lake Elsinore and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
State officials say while it's good news that
Photo: Getty Images