California out of 'exceptional drought' category after recent storms
(Left) A map of California from the United States Drought Monitor. (Right) A car drives through a flooded street in Van Nuys on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (United States Drought Monitor | AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Updated 52 mins ago
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The series of powerful storms to recently douse California has lessened the state's drought.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the worst level of drought -- "exceptional drought" -- has been entirely erased from California for the first time in three years.
Just 2.16 percent of the state is in "extreme drought," the group states.
The U.S. Drought Monitor map indicates the 2.16 percent includes portions of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern and Los Angeles counties.
At its height, nearly 60 percent of the state was under "exceptional drought."
During this wet season, Los Angeles has received 216 percent of normal rainfall to date.
Despite this, California's top water regulator is not ready to lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height of the drought.
"It makes the most sense to continue steady as she goes," State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman Felicia Marcus told The Associated Press after the latest in a series of storms brought more snow to the mountains and record-breaking rainfall to parts of the Southland.
Marcus and the other four board members will decide Feb. 7 whether to extend measures requiring local water districts to enforce conservation rules, provide monthly reports on water usage and show they have a three-year water supply.
January typically is the wettest month in California. Marcus said in interviews this week that she is concerned that subsequent months could turn out dry and that California could again be forced to scramble to save water if the restrictions are not kept in place.
California has endured more than five years of drought. In January 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency, later ordering residents statewide to cut water use by 25 percent - the first mandate of its kind in the state's history.