WASHINGTON D.C.: The US government has reported that the exceptionally wet winter in California this year will offer relief from a three year drought and could cause increased flood risks in spring.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that like much of the country, there are higher odds of minor to moderate flooding across most of California from rain and runoff of melting mountain snow this spring.
For much of the past three years, California has been preoccupied with drought, heat and wildfires, so this year's weather highlights a dramatic swing in conditions.
According to the agency's spring outlook, 44 percent of the US has a greater-than-50 percent chance of flooding in April, May and June, mostly east of the Mississippi River, though much of this potential flooding has been predicted to result in little or no serious property damage.
Some 6.4 million people are at risk of moderate flooding, and a large zone over central California and eastern Nevada accounts for most of that risk, along with smaller scattered regions across the upper Midwest, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
Flooding caused a levee to fail along the Pajaro River in Monterey, California last weekend, inundating a community of migrant farm workers.
"Winter precipitation, combined with recent storms, wiped out exceptional and extreme drought in California for the first time since 2020, and is expected to further improve drought conditions this spring," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement.
In other parts of the West, including the Colorado River Basin, where the winter snowpack ranges from 110 percent to 150 percent of average, the drought situation has also improved.