Story at a glance
- About 73 percent of California is experiencing severe levels of drought.
- Experts attribute it to low rainfall and snowpack, leaving the state dry and barren.
- Excessive dead vegetation puts the state at a high risk for wildfires.
After prolonged periods with little rainfall and snowpack, portions of the U.S. West are now experiencing severe drought, with states like California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona plagued with large swaths of drought.
Most regions in California are currently experiencing at least levels of “Extreme Drought,” as classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Specifically, an estimated 73 percent of the state faces Extreme Drought — the second highest drought category — amounting to about three-quarters of California.
"The worst part of our dry season is still ahead of us," Mike Nicco said at ABC7. "That's unfortunate."
Extreme Drought spreads up and down the state, while Exceptional Drought — the highest level — hits the southeastern portion of the state and further north by the San Francisco Bay Area.
An estimated 37 million people are affected by these current arid conditions.
High temperatures with daily averages from the mid-70s to low 50s also exacerbate the dry conditions and open the state up to further destruction from wildfires following several years of record-breaking fires.
"There are millions of dying trees and all of those pose hazards across California for all of us," said Robert Baird, chief for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, to local outlets. This is especially dangerous within a wildfire-prone state, where dead and dry vegetation can act as fuel loads that help feed and propagate wildfires.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has remained adamant that the record-breaking temperatures and severe weather conditions are a result of human-caused climate change.