UPDATE: Northeast portion of Kern County now in exceptional drought, the highest intensity level


UPDATE (5/13): A portion of northeast Kern County is now in exceptional drought, the highest intensity level, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The majority of the county is still in the “extreme drought” category, according to the website.

An exceptional drought is defined by the Drought Monitor as the following:

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
Fish rescue and relocation begins; pine beetle infestation occurs; forest mortality is high; wetlands dry up; survival of native plants and animals is low; fewer wildflowers bloom; wildlife death is widespread; algae blooms appear
Policy change; agriculture unemployment is high, food aid is needed
Poor air quality affects health; greenhouse gas emissions increase as hydropower production decreases; West Nile Virus outbreaks rise
Water shortages are widespread; surface water is depleted; federal irrigation water deliveries are extremely low; junior water rights are curtailed; water prices are extremely high; wells are dry, more and deeper wells are drilled; water quality is poor

(5/6): BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — All of Kern County is now in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Previously, a few parts of the county were considered to be in severe drought. However, a very dry start to the year has caused the drought to worsen.

The Drought Monitor shows that most of the state is also now in extreme drought, with coastal areas being among the exceptions. Parts of Inyo and San Bernardino counties are in exceptional drought.

An extreme drought is defined by the Drought Monitor as the following:

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
Dairy operations close
Fire season lasts year-round; fires occur in typically wet parts of state; burn bans are implemented
Ski and rafting business is low, mountain communities suffer
Orchard removal and well drilling company business increase; panning for gold increases
Low river levels impede fish migration and cause lower survival rates
Wildlife encroach on developed areas; little native food and water is available for bears, which hibernate less
Water sanitation is a concern, reservoir levels drop significantly, surface water is nearly dry, flows are very low; water theft occurs
Wells and aquifer levels decrease; homeowners drill new wells
Water conservation rebate programs increase; water use restrictions are implemented; water transfers increase
Water is inadequate for agriculture, wildlife, and urban needs; reservoirs are extremely low; hydropower is restricted


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