December rainstorms lead to drought improvement across the Central Coast, plus a look at this seasons rain

Rainbow over the highway
Posted at 12:02 PM, Dec 31, 2021

Drought has been a nearly constant topic in the past years along the Central Coast but this fall has proved productive with rainstorms beginning to alleviate many of the strains placed on our region by the struggle for water. That being said we still have a very long way to go.

The US Drought Monitor has been produced since 2000 and for California, there has rarely been a time without drought conditions.

Here is a look back at the past 20 years in California drought history.

Drought monitor over the past 20 years across California

The National Integrated Drought Information System rates conditions across the country every Thursday using a five-category system from D0- Abnormal Drought all the way to D4 Exceptional Drought.

The rain that fell just over the past few weeks has substantially decreased drought across the entirety of California. On the left are the conditions at the beginning of last week. On the right is the current monitor as of Dec. 31.

Drought condition comparison from mid to late December

On the Central Coast, we saw dramatic improvement just in the last week. The majority of the Central Coast was downgraded from D3 (Extreme) to D2 (Severe) and the far interior valleys were downgraded from D4 (Exceptional) to D3 (Extreme). These categories still put us in dangerous drought conditions but good news is good news.

Drought on the Central Coast (End of December 2021)

The month of December made a large difference to the drought conditions in a series of storms that brought inches of rain at a time.
Looking back at the "water year" overall the Central Coast did pretty well. Lots of rain helped to make near-normal totals. The water year is defined from October 1st, 2021 to September 30th, 2022.
All the information below, including many more locations, can be found at the Ventura County Watershed Website.

LocationSeason Total (Oct 2021 - Dec 31)Last 28 Days ( Dec 3 - Dec 31)Last 7 Days (Dec 24- Dec 31)
Paso Robles9.40"7.48"2.28"
Rocky Butte26.24"19.11"11.74
Moro Bay9.58"8.37"6.77"
Cal Poly 12.15"11.73"6.45"
SLO Airport11.15"8.70"4.77"
Arroyo Grande8.56"6.37"3.79"
Santa Maria5.99"4.60"2.36"
Santa Barbara11.08"9.45"5.79"
Refugio Pass18.08"13.82"7.64"
Santa Ynez8.16"6.67"3.58"

As we head into the new year we need a lot more rain to get us entirely out of this drought. For a look at the latest forecast use the KSBY Microclimate Weather App!