Longer fire seasons and more persistent and longer lasting droughts have been a common theme in the last 20 years, but especially so since 2014.
Data from the United States Drought Monitor by region, county and location shows how most of California has experienced some level of drought conditions — from D-1 moderate to D-4 extreme — roughly 80% of the time since 2000.
While the Bay Area saw less intense drought in the 2000-2006 time frame vs. the rest of California, recent years have matched the state's for intensity and duration as more of the Bay Area and Northern California experienced stronger ridges of high pressure for more intense heat waves during summer and prolonged winter dry spells reducing rainfall.
We've compiled the data county-by-county and across the U.S. Drought Monitor's city data points to show how the last 20 years of Drought Monitor data looks around the Bay Area. In nearly every case, most locations experienced the most intense and worst drought conditions from 2014 to 2017, with the most recent drought starting late winter 2020, expanding and holding ground even mid-way through winter 2021.