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Current U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions for California

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. This map shows drought conditions across California using a five-category system, from Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions to Exceptional Drought (D4). The USDM is a joint effort of the National Drought Mitigation Center, USDA, and NOAA. Learn more.

The following state-specific drought impacts were compiled by the National Drought Mitigation Center. While these impacts are not exhaustive, they can help provide a clearer picture of drought in California. 

D0 - Abnormally Dry
  • Soil is dry; irrigation delivery begins early
  • Dryland crop germination is stunted
  • Active fire season begins
100.0
of CA
D1 - Moderate Drought
  • Dryland pasture growth is stunted; producers give supplemental feed to cattle
  • Landscaping and gardens need irrigation earlier; wildlife patterns begin to change
  • Stock ponds and creeks are lower than usual
95.2
of CA
D2 - Severe Drought
  • Grazing land is inadequate
  • Producers increase water efficiency methods and drought-resistant crops
  • Fire season is longer, with high burn intensity, dry fuels, and large fire spatial extent; more fire crews are on staff
78.1
of CA
D3 - Extreme Drought
  • Livestock need expensive supplemental feed, cattle and horses are sold; little pasture remains, producers find it difficult to maintain organic meat requirements
  • Fruit trees bud early; producers begin irrigating in the winter
  • Federal water is not adequate to meet irrigation contracts; extracting supplemental groundwater is expensive
39.5
of CA
D4 - Exceptional Drought
  • Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yields are low; honey harvest is small
  • Fire season is very costly; number of fires and area burned are extensive
  • Many recreational activities are affected
1.2
of CA
D0 - Abnormally Dry
  • Soil is dry; irrigation delivery begins early
  • Dryland crop germination is stunted
  • Active fire season begins
100.0
of CA
D1 - Moderate Drought
  • Dryland pasture growth is stunted; producers give supplemental feed to cattle
  • Landscaping and gardens need irrigation earlier; wildlife patterns begin to change
  • Stock ponds and creeks are lower than usual
95.2
of CA
D2 - Severe Drought
  • Grazing land is inadequate
  • Producers increase water efficiency methods and drought-resistant crops
  • Fire season is longer, with high burn intensity, dry fuels, and large fire spatial extent; more fire crews are on staff
79.1
of CA
D3 - Extreme Drought
  • Livestock need expensive supplemental feed, cattle and horses are sold; little pasture remains, producers find it difficult to maintain organic meat requirements
  • Fruit trees bud early; producers begin irrigating in the winter
  • Federal water is not adequate to meet irrigation contracts; extracting supplemental groundwater is expensive
39.5
of CA
D4 - Exceptional Drought
  • Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yields are low; honey harvest is small
  • Fire season is very costly; number of fires and area burned are extensive
  • Many recreational activities are affected
1.2
of CA
D0 - Abnormally Dry
  • Soil is dry; irrigation delivery begins early
  • Dryland crop germination is stunted
  • Active fire season begins
100.0
of CA
D1 - Moderate Drought
  • Dryland pasture growth is stunted; producers give supplemental feed to cattle
  • Landscaping and gardens need irrigation earlier; wildlife patterns begin to change
  • Stock ponds and creeks are lower than usual
95.2
of CA
D2 - Severe Drought
  • Grazing land is inadequate
  • Producers increase water efficiency methods and drought-resistant crops
  • Fire season is longer, with high burn intensity, dry fuels, and large fire spatial extent; more fire crews are on staff
74.3
of CA
D3 - Extreme Drought
  • Livestock need expensive supplemental feed, cattle and horses are sold; little pasture remains, producers find it difficult to maintain organic meat requirements
  • Fruit trees bud early; producers begin irrigating in the winter
  • Federal water is not adequate to meet irrigation contracts; extracting supplemental groundwater is expensive
33.8
of CA
D4 - Exceptional Drought
  • Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yields are low; honey harvest is small
  • Fire season is very costly; number of fires and area burned are extensive
  • Many recreational activities are affected
1.2
of CA
Source(s):

NDMCNOAAUSDA

Source(s):

NDMCNOAAUSDA

Source(s):

NDMCNOAAUSDA

Updates Weekly  -  01/19/21
Updates Weekly  -  01/12/21
Updates Weekly  -  12/22/20

Drought in California from 2000–Present

The U.S. Drought Monitor started in 2000. Since 2000, the longest duration of drought (D1–D4) in California lasted 376 weeks beginning on December 27, 2011, and ending on March 5th, 2019. The most intense period of drought occurred the week of July 29, 2014, where D4 affected 58.41% of California land.

    The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is a national map released every Thursday, showing parts of the U.S. that are currently in drought. The USDM relies on drought experts to synthesize the best available data and work with local observers to interpret the information. The USDM also incorporates ground truthing and information about how drought is affecting people, via a network of more than 450 observers across the country, including state climatologists, National Weather Service staff, Extension agents, and hydrologists. Learn more.

    The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is an index to characterize meteorological drought on a range of timescales, ranging from 1 to 72 months. The SPI is the number of standard deviations that observed cumulative precipitation deviates from the climatological average. NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information produce the 9-month SPI values below on a monthly basis, going back to 1895. Learn more.

    Tree-rings are used to extend the instrumental record of drought to over 2,000 years. The Living Blended Drought Product (LBDP) is a recalibrated data series of June-July-August Palmer Modified Drought Index (PMDI) values in the lower 48 U.S. states. This dataset blends tree-ring reconstructions and instrumental data to estimate the average summer PMDI values, which extend over 2,000 years in some parts of the U.S. Learn more.

Web Resources for California

Report Impacts

Tell us how drought is impacting your community by submitting a condition monitoring report. Your submissions help us better understand how drought is affecting local conditions. 

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