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Reminder: The terrible drought in California is still really, really terrible

A section of Lake Oroville is seen nearly dry on Aug. 19 in Oroville, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California’s catastrophic drought is still catastrophic, but there has been a glimmer of good news for a small sliver of the state.

First, though, some bad news: The state is still facing exceptionally harsh conditions. As the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday, officials in Tulare County gave out 15,000 gallons of bottled water after it was discovered that wells had gone dry. San Jose, the state’s third-largest city, officially declared a water shortage on Tuesday, pleading with residents to reduce their water usage.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported last month that more than half tof the state was experiencing the most severe drought possible. This is still true — the same 58 percent of the state is facing “exceptional” drought — but a portion of southeastern California has actually seen its drought ease a slight bit.

This is all relative, of course. Most of the state (81 percent) is still facing the two most intense levels of drought (exceptional or extreme). But the portion of the state facing severe drought has declined by a very small amount, as the latest map from the Drought Monitor shows:

The southeastern portion of the state was entirely facing severe drought last month, but a small area has now been slightly downgraded from severe to moderate. This is due to unusually strong rainfall across the deserts in southeastern California in recent weeks, according to Richard Tinker, who wrote the drought summary released last Thursday.

But the rainfall won’t affect the water shortages or reservoir problems across the state, Tinker said. California is facing a state of emergency due to the drought, which is the most severe tracked by the Drought Monitor since 2000.

Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.
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