US Drought Monitor: Central California Enters Deepest Category of Drought

Every Thursday morning, we check the U.S. Drought Monitor’s excellent Maps and Data Services page for an updated look at drought and dry conditions around the country. Lately, the focus has understandably been on California, where some areas have been in drought for years. Today, the USDM made it official: Central California’s drought has reached the deepest category in their reporting system, called Exceptional Drought.

This week’s California drought map:

To give you an idea how we got here, two weeks ago we put together an animated .gif image of a year of California drought maps. This shows the period between January 15, 2013 and January 14, 2014, in which California went from mostly just dry or a moderate drought to a widespread and extreme one:

At no point in this year of images do you see any Exceptional Drought areas in California. The USDM defines its Exceptional Drought category as “Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies.” This condition now covers 9% of the state. Considering the announcement yesterday that 17 rural California communities may run out of water completely in 2-4 months, this can’t be all that surprising, but that blood red spot cutting through central California is another sign of just how bad it’s gotten.

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