Since we last covered the California drought, conditions in the state have stayed, well, dry—very dry. Statewide, total California precipitation over the past three years is near or lower than any other three-year period since 1895.
A few storms found their way to the drought-stricken California coast late this winter, but they barely made a dent in the state's huge water deficits. As the North Pacific winter storm season recedes, there is little likelihood for substantial drought recovery.
Maps of precipitation deficits through January show California mountain areas generally have greater deficits than lower elevations, and Southern California with larger deficits than areas to the north. The drought outlook for February remained grim.
The most populated state in the country is facing what may be its worst drought in a century of record-keeping. On January 20, the governor of California declared a state of emergency, urging everyone to begin conserving water.
Most of the southwestern United States is having a very dry winter. The northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico were clipped by a few drenching storms exiting California in December, but dry conditions are more the norm.