Environment & Science

More than 40 percent of California out of drought, officials say

File photo taken March 29, 2015 shows a field being watered in Kern County.
File photo taken March 29, 2015 shows a field being watered in Kern County.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Federal monitors announced Thursday that 42 percent of California has emerged from a five-year drought after some of the heaviest rain and snow in decades.

The finding marks a dramatic turnaround from this time last year when 97 percent of California was locked in drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says half of the state, all in the central and southern regions, remains in severe drought or worse.

Storms this week brought the Sierra Nevada its heaviest snow in six years and hit parts of Northern California with the most rain in two decades.

The storms helped double vital snowpack in a week. State reservoirs are now fuller than average for the first time in six years.

State officials say Gov. Jerry Brown likely will wait until spring to decide whether to lift the state's three-year drought emergency.