Santa Barbara County worsened from “severe” to “extreme” drought conditions this week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly map published Thursday.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In extreme conditions, there are major crop and pasture losses and widespread water shortage or restrictions.
Just over 85% of California is in extreme drought, or worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Further data is available at droughtmonitor.unl.edu.
The county has only received 48% of the rainfall it expects at this point in the water year, according to the county’s flood control district.
The extreme conditions precede a heat wave the National Weather Service predicts for next week, with the hottest days Tuesday-Friday.
“Our local weather forecast of gusty sundowners and increasing temperatures, coupled with extremely dry vegetation means a wildfire in our area could grow rapidly,” the Montecito Fire Department tweeted Thursday.
The heat will strike most of Southwest California, though many coastal areas will have low heat risks.
Santa Barbara will reach a high of 85 Wednesday.
The area surrounding Lompoc’s airport is forecast to reach a high near 76. The Santa Maria Valley will reach 83, predicts the National Weather Service.
Santa Ynez is at the highest risk with temperatures up to 96 Wednesday.