|Whitewater Canyon: March 17 2014|
More than 93 percent of California was in a state of severe drought as of March 18, a slight increase from a week ago, a coalition of climatologists with the U.S. Drought Monitor announced Thursday.
In addition, more than 71 percent of the state was in extreme drought, a 6 percent increase since last week, according to data released Thursday March 20.
"The benefits of the February and early-March precipitation rapidly diminished across California and the Southwest as unseasonable warmth and dryness increased water demands and depleted snowpacks," Eric Luebehusen of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a summary.
Conditions in California are unlikely to change before April arrives, Luebehusen said.
"Little - if any - drought relief is expected from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, with precipitation during the upcoming monitoring period mostly confined to the Northeast and Gulf Coast," Luebehusen said. "Dry weather will persist . . . from California to the southern High Plains."
The entire state of California is "abnormally dry," an estimate that remained unchanged from last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a partnership that includes that includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the USDA and the University of Nebraska.
The cities of Riverside and Los Angeles experienced the driest years in their recorded history in 2013, according to the National Weather Service.
View the Drought Monitor's March 20 update at this link.
March 17 photo by Guy McCarthy