About 10 percent of California now in moderate drought status, scientists say

The latest map by the U.S. Drought Monitor brings some bad news for California: After a virtually rain-less start to February, nearly half of the state is either “abnormally dry” or at a “moderate” drought level.

The monitor shows a pocket of the Central Valley and southern Sierra Nevada, from Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, through Fresno County and extending south through parts of Kern County, are in D1, or “moderate drought,” status, the first recorded drought-like conditions of the year for California. The stretch makes up just under 10 percent of the state’s land area.

An additional 37 percent of the state is categorized as “abnormally dry,” based on data measured Tuesday and published Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor, which bases the numbers off readings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies. The abnormally dry area includes most of the Sierra Nevada range and the Central Valley, the Sacramento area and most of the Bay Area.

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