By Katharina Buchholz
Tropical storm Hilary reached California Monday morning, bringing heavy rains to the state and its neighbors. Due to the downpour, California is free of extreme drought conditions for the first time in three years, The New York Times reports. Even before the storm, as of August 15, only 3 percent of the area of the continental United States was classified as being under extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This was down from 20 percent in May of last year. However, drought conditions of any level are still affecting almost exactly half of the lower 48.