New drought data for California indicates that about 9 percent of the state is in an exceptional drought. This is the worst drought category on the Drought Monitor and the first time it's been used in California since monitoring began in 2000.
The area covered by the exceptional drought stretches south from Monterey County to Kern County. The status was changed for this region due to our record-breaking dry weather this winter. This is on the heels of previous dry years resulting in extreme precipitation deficits.
About 67 percent of the state is in an extreme drought, according to the Drought Monitor. That's the highest extreme drought percentage recorded in the state since monitoring began.
Storms would need to be steady for the rest of the winter to provide some relief from this drought situation. Right now, the forecast is still holding for abnormally dry conditions through our wettest months into March.
The Sierra also looks dry. To stay on track for average, we need to see between two and four inches of precipitation per week.