All of CA Remains in “Severe” Drought or Worse

The conditions are the most extreme in the U.S. Drought Monitor's 15-year history

The entire state of California faces "severe" drought conditions or worse as the West enters its dry season, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Drought Monitor's weekly report (scroll down to view map) tracks drought conditions across the country. Drought Monitor researchers use five categories to indicate drought intensity -- Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

The report released Thursday shows little change for California, which is in a third-consecutive dry year. Severe to exceptional drought expanded to the entire state last week for the first time in the Drought Monitor's 15-year history.

Three months ago, 90 percent of the state was considered in severe to exceptional drought. One year ago, 46 percent of the state faced those conditions.

Months of dry weather left dead vegetation that, combined with strong winds and heat, fueled destructive wildfires last week in San Diego County.

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a second executive order to help with the state's drought, an effort to help prevent wildfires and assist cities and farmers. The order came a month after he signed $687.4 million worth of legislation to assist drought-affected communities and provide funding to better use local water supplies.

A preliminary study released earlier this week by the University of California Davis said California's drought will cost the state's agricultural economy an estimated $1.7 billion this year and leave some 14,500 farmworkers without jobs. The study was done at the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and used computer models and recent water delivery figures to arrive at its conclusions, the Associated Press reported.

The report estimates 6 percent of farmland in the Central Valley -- or 410,000 acres -- could go unplanted because of cuts in water deliveries. A more detailed report is due out this summer.

No significant rainfall is in the forecast.

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