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Several counties are experiencing 'exceptional drought' conditions

So, what is it? Exceptional is the most intense level on our drought scale, one step above extreme.

CALIFORNIA, USA — It’s called an “exceptional drought” and a third of California is currently in this dangerous category. 

So, what is it? Exceptional is the most intense level on our drought scale, one step above extreme. Areas under those conditions are experiencing widespread crop and pasture losses, high fire risk, and severe water shortages that result in water emergencies.

San Diego County is not currently under exceptional drought status, but just up Interstate 15, parts of San Bernardino County are in this highest tier.  So is much of Kern County, which is a huge agricultural area. Among the counties in Northern California experiencing exceptional drought conditions are Napa, Sonoma, and Sacramento.

As a result of these dry conditions, farmers are forced to remove orchards and vegetable yields are low, affecting the amount of food in stores. That will certainly push up food prices across the state. It also leads to high unemployment in the agriculture industry, causes widespread wildlife death, and typically leads to a rise in West Nile Virus outbreaks.

Most of San Diego County is currently under moderate drought conditions. Despite continued hot and dry conditions in California, the San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday that our region is protected from drought impacts this summer and through 2045. 

According to a statement released by the Water Authority, 

"No shortages or regional water-use mandates are in the forecast, the result of three decades of strategic investments that create an aquatic safety net for San Diego County's $253 billion economy and quality of life for 3.3 million residents." 

Simply put, over the years, local officials have diversified our water portfolio and that should protect the region against a drought for several decades.

But even with this diversification, local officials are still asking San Diegans to conserve water because conditions in other parts of the state can definitely affect us here.

WATCH RELATED: How San Diego County reservoirs levels look amid California drought (June 2021)