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Powerful storm eased drought in parts of California

February 4, 2021 GMT
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Assisted by Ramesh Gautam, left, Sean de Guzman, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, measure the depth of the snowpack during the second snow survey of the season at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. The survey found the snowpack at 63 inches deep with a water content of 17 inches. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)
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Assisted by Ramesh Gautam, left, Sean de Guzman, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, measure the depth of the snowpack during the second snow survey of the season at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. The survey found the snowpack at 63 inches deep with a water content of 17 inches. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The powerful storm that drenched much of California last week eased drought conditions in some parts of the state, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday.

The central coast from Monterey Bay south to Ventura County was reduced from moderate drought to abnormal dryness and a swath northeastward across the Central Valley and into the Sierra Nevada was reduced from severe to moderate drought.

A strip of the far north coast also dropped out of moderate drought into abnormal dryness, according to monitor data.

Overall, 85.9% of the state remained in moderate, severe, extreme or exceptional drought, down from more than 95% in the week-earlier report.

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Rain and snowfall totals through the rest of the season will determine whether the state has a second consecutive dry year that could impact water supplies and risk of wildfires, which burned more than 4 million acres (16.1 million square kilometers) in 2020.

The season’s second Sierra snowpack survey, which is used to forecast water supply, found Wednesday that the water content was 70% of average to date and 45% of the April 1 average, when the snowpack is usually deepest and has the highest water content.