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Nearly half of California is no longer in a drought

Nearly half of California has emerged from a five-year drought, thanks in part to heavy rainfall this month, according to a recent report.

The weekly United States Drought Monitor report released Thursday indicates roughly 49 percent of the state is no longer under drought conditions. By comparison, only 5 percent of the state was drought-free one year ago.

This week marked the first time since January 2014 that no part of the state faced “exceptional drought” conditions, which is the most severe drought category. A year ago, as much as 40 percent of California was listed under those conditions.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official Richard Tinker, the author of the report, said heavy precipitation affected areas through most of California, particularly the Sierra Nevada, coastal locations and the southwestern interior.

According to the NOAA, most of central and south central California recorded at least an inch of precipitation this week. Other parts of the state received as many as 9 inches.

Drought conditions in the state have been steadily improving over the last few months. In September 27, 2016, about 84 percent of the state was still in a drought. Two months later, that number fell to 73 percent. By the end of 2016, it was 69 percent.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly analysis, released on Thursday, says no part of the state faced “exceptional drought” conditions for the first time since 2014. Video by KQED Science

Despite the improvements, California is still under a drought state of emergency that Gov. Jerry Brown declared three years ago.

Still, California Natural Resources Agency spokesman Sam Chiu recently told the NewsHour that the state would not fully assess the drought conditions for at least another few months.

“It’s early in the water season, and we know from experience that storms can cease,” he said.