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What 'exceptional' drought really means for California

The U.S. drought monitor has specific impacts for every level of drought for each state. Here is what California can expect.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The drought in California has been growing for two years, and now 14% of the state is in "exceptional" drought.  That is the top-level category from the US drought monitor.

Drought in California is different from any other state because of our unique wet and dry season and system of capturing and moving water around the state.

The U.S. Drought Monitor recognizes this and lists specific impacts for each state so the public and policymakers know what may happen in the future to impact health and the economy.

RELATED: 2 million Sacramento-area residents may soon be asked to conserve water

Credit: USDA

Many of the impacts have played out before with the last big drought, and some new impacts have been added.

Some impacts will be severe for the 14% of the southern Sierra and nearby foothills, such as poor air quality, the potential for more fires and water quality.  We can also expect economic impacts to recreation, the cost to fight more fires and jobs in the agricultural industry.

This year California could also see a higher tree mortality rate, and wells could go dry.

RELATED: Is California drought ready? Leaders in water policy say it's complicated.

Credit: ABC10


The last major drought had 58% of California in this top-level drought, but it's unclear how much more area will see the most severe impacts for the rest of the dry season.

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