When discussing drought it is best to stick to the science and the people who are educated and work in it.
I do ignore the Palmer Index
Which is it? Trust the experts or trust the experts only when they agree with you?
Drought isn't about what might happen in 6 months. It's about current conditions, that's what you want to ignore. It's not about whether aquifers have been replenished or not.
The Palmer Index has a lot of inconsistencies and limitations and I haven't pulled this statement out of my hat. There are a number of scientific papers available on the internet that go into considerable detail about the biases and shortcomings of the Palmer Index. However, none of those papers stated it as succinctly as the USGS did on their website (USGS FAQ's: Floods & Droughts - What is the Palmer Drought Severity Index?). Here is the key quote from that the USGS site":
"The advantage to the Palmer Index that it is standardized to local climate, so it can be applied to any part of the country to demonstrate relative drought or rainfall conditions. The negative is that it is not as good for short term forecasts, and is not particularly useful in calculating supplies of water locked up in snow, so it works best east of the Continental Divide."
(Emphasis added by me.)
Now I have previously mentioned that 60% of the water consumed in California is produced from the Sierra snowpack. Water supply forecasters, water managers and professional land management managers (in my case a retired one) ignored it because it did not correlate to the most important indicators of drought, those being: how much water will flow in streams, how soon will the runoff peak, how soon will the ground surface become dry enough to allow construction and maintenance activities on roads and other facilities, how quickly will 1000 hour wildland fire fuels dry out. The 1000 hour fuels are those in the 3-8" size class and there is a 1000 hour lag between changes in surrounding moisture and the resulting change in the water content in the fuel.
Also realize that the Klamath River drainage does not provide any portion of that 60% of the water consumed in California as it is located in the Cascades, not the Sierra. The northern terminus of the Sierra Nevada and southern terminus of the Cascades is located near the small California town of Chester, west of Susanville.
To most of us it is obvious that a drought cannot be said to have ended unless a long term average runoff has occurred or can be reasonably predicated to occur. Drought is all about water supply, not about a couple of months of storms.
I did not want to have to ask, but I see no alternative but to bring up qualifications. What is your background and education in hydrology and natural resource management? How many years have you spent on the ground managing the effects of precipitation such as planning maintenance and construction of public land roads and facilities? How many years have you spent on the ground getting your fingernails dirty opening and closing roads, campgrounds, entrance stations, sewer plants, lift stations, wells, leach fields, cleaning culverts and drainage ditches and plowing roads and shoveling snow? How many wildland fires have you been on? How many times have you taken instrument readings at official NWS weather stations? How many hours of formal classroom training do you have on subjects such a wildland fuel science and wildland fire behavior? How many pairs of boots have you worn out (after numerous rebuilds) have you worn out walking in the mountain ranges of the west? How many thousands of miles have your cross country skied in the mountains of the west and, in particular, the Sierra Nevada? How many thousands of miles have you backpacked in the mountains of the west? How many hours have you spent in meetings and on field trips with USGS, CA Department of Water Resources and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power professionals. How many times have you drilled that pipe into the snow and weighed it? How many times have you worked with National Resource and Conservation Service (previously the Soil Conservation Service) hydrologists to relocate a snow course, because the old one, with decades of data was located inside a wilderness (not permitted under the federal Wilderness act of 1964) and required skiing through multiple major avalanche zones? We had to find a new snow course whose data correlated to the old non compliant and dangerous one. How many hours of classroom and field training have you had in tree pathology and how many tens of thousands of trees have you evaluated for the potential of falling on the public in developed recreation sites and maintained roads? Hazard tree evaluation is one method of putting your finger on the pulse of drought.
I know the answer to those questions for me, given my Bachelor of Science in Forestry (Northern Arizona University), 18 credits toward a masters degree (Clemson University), 25 years of employment with the U.S. Forest Service on four national forests in four western U.S. states, over 110 wildland fires, studying fire ecology since my senior year of high school (1968), 1900 miles of cross country skiing on the job . . . . . I will stop there.
I read between the lines of your comments that: a. you live in a major metro area of southern California. b. have no formal education in a natural resource science. c. have not worked on the ground in the elements applying natural resource science d. have worked in "the great indoors" e. have done a lot of online searches on hydrology and f. really like to argue theoretically. If I'm at least partially accurate you do remind me of patients trying to tell the doctor how to do their job.