Drought emergency declared in 2 counties in Northern California - is SoCal next?

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California is once again facing dire drought conditions.

The state Department of Water Resources says this is the fourth driest year on record statewide, especially in Northern California.

After two consecutive dry years, Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency in two Northern California counties - and Southern California could be next.

"We need to think, act with a sense of urgency, think differently and approach the challenges with a laser-like recognition," Newsom said in an appearance this week in Mendocino County.

Newsom wants the state to recognize that drought-like conditions are back.

RELATED: Sierra snowpack survey points toward return of drought conditions
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The California Department of Water Resources' third snow survey of the season found the fifth consecutive dry month of the state's water year and is pointing toward possible drought conditions.

Current U.S. Drought Monitor conditions for California can be seen in the map at this link.

The map shows more than 38% of the state is in a condition of "extreme drought" - the second-worst classification.

For Los Angeles County, the map indicates most of the county falls under the "extreme drought" category. February 2021 was the county's second-driest February in data going back 127 years, according to the monitor.
"It's mostly bad news so it looks like we're gonna have to be dealing with worsening drought conditions over the next two months," said Alex Tardy with the National Weather Service based in San Diego.

Tardy says drought conditions since 2019 show many similarities to the worst drought in state history from 2013 to 2015.

"One of the big ones, besides the fact that we haven't seen the precipitation, is the snowpack," Tardy said. "The snowpack is at a near all-time low right now."

The Sierra snowpack is only at 20% to 30% of where it should be for this time of year. The snow melt would usually fill the gaps of any rain loss in a given year. Tardy says most spots in Southern California are well below average for rain this year.

He notes that it's important for Southern Californians to practice water conservation and predicts the state could begin taking rationing measures by this summer.

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