More of the Bay Area has fallen into exceptional drought, the worst classification for drought conditions, weather officials say, and more than a quarter of the state is now in that category.
The drought severity on Thursday was expanded for Napa and Contra Costa counties. Those two counties as well as parts of Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties already were seeing the worst drought conditions.
The classification also was extended into the Sacramento Valley and interior portions of Northern California. About 26% of the state is now in that exceptional drought category.
Exceptional drought means a year-round fire season and widespread water shortages, which not only affect water use but also could have long-term impacts on water bills and grocery prices.
In Marin County, officials already had declared a drought emergency earlier this month, allowing for federal and state aid. Marin Water's reservoir levels were at about 50% capacity as of Thursday, the lowest level in 40 years. They are typically above 90% at this time of year.
The water board approved additional measures to their exsisting conservation protocols, mandating spray irrigation be limited to two days a week and drip irrigation to three days a week.
Other Bay Area counties such as Santa Clara and Alameda counties have asked residents to conserve but have yet to pass water saving mandates this year.