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Exceptional drought level grows in California's Central Valley

The U.S. drought monitor increased the area of Exceptional drought in the Central Valley.
Credit: US Drought Monitor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The U.S. Drought Monitor increased the areas designated as Exceptional drought in California, specifically in the Central Valley.

The monitor now lists 46% of the state in the highest drought category, an increase of 33% from the previous week.

Big changes in drought status often do not occur in summer because of lack of rainfall. However, the designation can change due to the availability of water for customers, as well as the status of reservoirs and local waterways.

California has seen two years with rain and snow far below average. This year, the last sections of snowpack were hammered by a heat wave, with some of the anticipated runoff not making it to the reservoirs, evaporating or sinking into the ground before making it to creeks and streams.

Water restrictions have been spreading by city and water district with more anticipated in the coming months. At the peak of the last major drought, 58% of the state was covered by Exceptional drought before winter rain came and brought some areas out of the top levels. 


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What does "Exceptional" drought really mean for California? The drought in California has been growing for two years. Drought in California is different from any other state because of our unique wet and dry season as well as system of capturing and moving water around the state. The US Drought monitor recognizes this and lists specific impacts for each state so the public and policymakers know what may happen in the future for impacts on health and the economy.

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