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US Drought Monitor shows intensifying drought in California

Exceptional drought has expanded in the southern and eastern Sierra Nevada in response to poor snowpack conditions.

CALIFORNIA, USA — The U.S. Drought Monitor says drought conditions intensified in parts of California over the past week. 

The monitor's weekly update Thursday shows areas of exceptional drought have expanded in the southern and eastern Sierra Nevada in response to poor snowpack conditions. The southern Sierra only has 3% of average snowpack for this time of year. Exceptional is the worst level. Most of the rest of California is in the extreme or severe categories, while small sections of the far north coast and the two southernmost counties are in moderate drought. 

On Monday, May 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a drought emergency declaration to 41 of California’s 58 counties amid “acute water supply shortages” in northern and central areas and said a further expansion is likely. 

The drought state of emergency proclamation was significantly expanded from Newsom's original proclamation on April 21. The new proclamation includes counties on the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake watersheds.

Credit: KXTV
A map of the counties currently under the state's emergency drought proclamation as of May 10.

Gov. Newsom's proclimation expansion represents 30% of California's population, nearly 40 million people. The original proclamation only included Mendocino and Sonoma counties due to the drought conditions in the Russian River watershed.

"With the reality of climate change abundantly clear in California, we’re taking urgent action to address acute water supply shortfalls in northern and central California while also building our water resilience to safeguard communities in the decades ahead,” Newsom said in the press release announcing the expansion.

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