Severe drought spreads across SLO County — and it’s getting worse every week

The majority of San Luis Obispo County is now experiencing severe drought conditions, according to a new U.S. Drought Monitor report.

The report — released on Thursday with data recorded on Tuesday — shows the severe dryness that began to creep into the southwest corner of the county a week ago has now spread throughout the region. Only the northwest corner of the county is spared the “severe” designation — even so, it’s experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.

A very dry winter has caused drought conditions to spread quickly from Southern California up the Central Coast and into the Central Valley.

On Feb. 6, a small portion of San Luis Obispo County and all of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties were classified as being in a severe drought. This week, those conditions reached most of San Luis Obispo County and stretched into Kern, Kings, Fresno and Tulare counties.

Cal Poly has recorded only 4.51 inches this rain season, as of Feb. 15, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey. San Luis Obispo’s average rainfall for this point in the season is 12.43 inches, meaning the city has received 36 percent of its typical rainfall, Lindsey said.

Last year on Feb. 15 — after San Luis Obispo recorded its rainiest January in 20 years — Cal Poly had received 33.48 inches of rain, which was 269 percent of its average, Lindsey said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

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