The Drought Monitor map released on Jan. 30, 2014.
The Drought Monitor map released on Jan. 30, 2014.

California’s rivers and reservoirs are running dry as drought deepens to new levels across the state.

According to the latest “Drought Monitor” report released Thursday, California has reported exceptional drought, the highest level of drought intensity, for the first time in 15 years.

As on Jan. 28, more than half of the state is in extreme drought with another 9 percent in extreme drought.

“Climatologically speaking, 15 years is a very short span of time, but it is safe to say that the current California drought rivals any in recent memory,” said Mark Svoboda, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center. “You’ve got to go back to the 1970s to find anything comparable.”

However, according to the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, locals disagree.

“This is worse than the drought in the 1970s,” Rancher Stanley Van Vleck said. “That drought lasted longer but at least there was more rain per year. So, our lands are severely impacted. When you have no water, you have no grass. And when you have no grass you have no meat.”

Read more here.

Ranchers are already beginning to sell off livestock at a time when sale barns are typically slow, and the California Farm Water Coalition estimates that lost revenue from the drought in everything from farming to trucking could top $5 billion.

Seventeen rural communities across the state are almost out of water. Some could run dry within 60 to 120 days, according to the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News in an article here.

And it could get a lot worse.

Some scientists fear the state could be on the verge of a “mega-drought.” Such an event could have catastrophic effects on the state. If the current drought stretches on for another 10 years, water experts say farmers would bear the brunt of the loss.  

California isn’t alone in battling deepening drought. Extreme or worse conditions exist from Idaho, Nevada and into a small area of Oregon.

Click here to see the full Drought Monitor map.