After years of drought that brought devastating wildfires and forced municipalities to consider alternative approaches to water use in California, incoming storms were expected to bring several feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The snowfall, which could provide some much needed relief this week will come on the heels of weeks of wet weather that has helped put a big dent in the state’s dry spell, NBC affiliate KNTV reported Monday.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are an important point of measurement for officials and scientists analyzing the California drought. Water runoff from the range is one of the main feeds into rivers and reservoirs across the state. This young winter season has already experienced 180 percent of the average rainfall levels there, the Los Angeles Times reported last month. Those rains and snows have cut the percent of California experiencing “exceptional drought” — the worst rating — from 45 percent down to 18 percent, according to KNTV.

But the wet conditions in the northern portion of the state aren’t likely to fix the problems down in Southern California, where about 50 percent of the water supply comes from groundwater and local reservoirs independent of the Sierras.

“California is a big place. It has different droughts in different parts,” Jay Lund, a professor of civil engineering at University of California at Davis who studies water, told the Los Angeles Times last month. “We certainly saw that last year … and we’re likely to see that again.”

Dec 27 US Drought Map A map of droughts in the United States as of Dec. 27, 2016. Photo: University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Large portions of the United States have been impacted by drought recently as climate change has pushed temperatures upward globally, worrying scientists that dry conditions may be prolonged. In addition to California, a large portion of the Southeast between Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky have also experienced exceptional drought as of late, according to the United States Drought Monitor map that is maintained by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. That dry spell has already manifested itself in several ways, including drier Christmas trees and a series of wildfires in November that destroyed homes and businesses in a popular Tennessee tourist town.