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‘Severe’ drought covers almost all of California

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Drought conditions may have leveled off across California, but nearly 100 percent of the state remains in the third-harshest category for dryness, according to the latest measurements.

For the past two weeks, California’s drought picture has remained the same, halting a steady march toward worse. But the breather has allowed the state to recover only ever so slightly.

In May, 100 percent of California was experiencing “severe” drought – the third-harshest on a five-level scale – but that figure has now improved only to 99.8 percent, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report.

Meanwhile, nearly 82 percent of California continues to suffer “extreme” drought and, within that area, more than half the state is under the driest “exceptional” drought category.

The figures come as the state Water Resources Control Board authorized strict fines for water wasters in July as part of the latest conservation effort.

As cities across California start enforcing penalties with renewed gusto for over-watering, residents have felt the consequences – some incurring huge fines, others annoyed with browning neighborhood lawns.

The latest long-term forecast shows the chances of a wet El Niño weather pattern starting this fall have decreased to about 65 percent.

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