What's the Latest?
Crisis-level dryness has been a major scourge on the American southwest for the past few years. California, in particular, has been hit hard by drought conditions. Last month, record dryness hit a critical level. Veronica Rocha of the L.A. Times reports nearly 80% of the state experienced "extreme" drought in June. That's the second-highest possible level as classified by the National Weather Service. The highest level -- "exceptional" drought -- affected nearly a quarter of the state. The extreme conditions stretch from the Oregon border all throughout Northern California, through most of Central California, and as far south as Orange County.
What's the Big Idea?
These types of extremely dry conditions are dangerous for many reasons. The lack of moisture in local vegetation puts entire regions at risk for wildfires such as the one currently burning in Napa County. Water shortages result in forced rationing in some parts of the state. The agriculture industry struggles when drought conditions deplete water supplies; the price of fruits and vegetables then shoots up. Considering Central California's importance to America's agriculture industry (the state accounts for 15% of all crops receipts), farmers and economists both are hoping the fall brings the much needed relief summer is not expected to offer.
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