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Extreme drought grows to more than half of California

The US drought monitor grew 3% in the "Extreme" category and now includes the Bay Area.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The growing and worrying drought in California continues to march on with more areas included in higher end drought categories.

The US Drought Monitor puts out weekly updates on drought conditions throughout the country and California is joining many other states under major drought conditions.

In latest report release on Thursday, the highest level of drought, which is labeled as Exceptional, remained at 5%, but the second highest level of drought grew by 3%. Extreme drought now covers 53% of California and now includes the Bay Area. Previous updates included more areas in the Sacramento area, Coastal Range, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

Higher levels of drought don't necessarily mean water shortages since many large urban areas import water from far away water sources or ground water. Direct impacts often impact agriculture first with grazing areas and time reduced, and stock ponds drying up. Longer durations of drought will see dwindling water supply for agriculture and efforts to conserve for all users.

Major reductions in drought conditions are not possible in California until the rainy season, which spans October to May. 

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