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Updated drought map shows half of California experiencing 'extreme' conditions

Lack of rain and snow for two years is leading California to more serious levels of drought. Late season rain may help, but it won't stop concerns.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Two years of little rain and snow has led California into another serious drought.  

The US Drought Monitor updated its map Thursday, which is Earth Day, to cover roughly 50% of California as in "extreme" drought. That is the second highest level of drought on their scale. 

Last week, about 39% of the state was listed as "extreme." California also has 5% of the state listed as in "exceptional" drought, which is the top level on the scale. This remains unchanged from mid-April.

The lack of rain and snow will keep these levels of drought likely into the fall. California traditionally does not see any significant rain or snow until the next wet season, which often starts in October and November. Some areas that rely entirely on local rain have recently had major drought declarations, Governor Gavin Newsom traveled to Mendocino County on Wednesday to make the official emergency executive order for Mendocino and Sonoma counties, where drought conditions are particularly bad. 

There is one surprise this weekend that will help some areas. A late season cold storm will add some rain and snow to the mix. Many Northern California valley locations will see 0.50-1.00" of rain between Sunday and Monday.  The Sierra foothills and Coastal Range could see 2-3" of rain and above 5,000 feet, we will see some snow.

Over the Sierra passes like Donner Summit on I-80 and Echo Summit on Highway 50, we could see 6-12" of snow between Saturday night and Monday morning. This will cause travel delays and likely chain controls.

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