Drought update: Hope in sight for Northern California, SoCal still dry

California Drought Dries Up Bay Area Reservoirs

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Low water levels are visible at the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino. Now in its third straight year of drought conditions, California is experiencing its driest year on record.

When it comes to California's drought, there's some good news and some bad news.

The good news, weather-wise, is that the ridge of high-pressure air over California that's blocked rainstorms for months seems to be breaking up in some places.

Mark Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says this ridge once extended as far north as British Columbia, but has now weakened over Northern California.

"It's breaking down slightly," he said.

Related: Dry winter brings bad air to California's Central Valley

The dissipation of what's been called a "ridiculously resilient ridge" was aided by rainstorms in Northern California last weekend that brought in upwards of 15 inches of much-needed moisture.

Those storms were pushed into the state by a powerful atmospheric river dubbed the Pineapple Express because the winds are thought to come from the tropics.

Jackson says such rain helps break up high-pressure zones by cooling the region, which allows more low-pressure weather such as storms to take hold.

All of this has helped temporarily raise water levels in reservoirs such as Folsom Dam and helped reduce the drought conditions in some areas from "extreme" to "severe," as shown in the red.

Drought Chart

And now for the bad news...

Southern California has not been as lucky in the rain department, and the weather is expected to remain dry.

Most areas in the region are well below the average rainfall for February, a month that is typically the state's wettest, say forecasters with NOAA.

While there is some rain expected this weekend for San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties, meteorologists don't expect that rain to head south and they say the next month may be warmer than average in the region.

All of this is pointing to a potentially record-breaking dry year for the state, as the graph below shows.

Water Precipitation in California

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