#5. California



– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 94,777 sq. mi. (59.9% of land area); 22,046,498 people (59.2% of population)

— Moderate drought: 69,192 sq. mi. (43.8% of land area); 16,136,198 people (43.3% of population)

— Severe drought: 43,277 sq. mi. (27.4% of land area); 10,373,130 people (27.8% of population)

— Extreme drought: 19,815 sq. mi. (12.5% of land area); 5,259,607 people (14.1% of population)

— Exceptional drought: 7,993 sq. mi. (5.1% of land area); 2,480,621 people (6.7% of population)

With annual wildfires that make national news, California has unintentionally done more to highlight the dangers of dry weather than any other state in the U.S. Severe drought is currently gripping 58.6% of the state, which has gone to great lengths to prepare for what climate experts predict will be a mega-drought in the coming years. Officials have developed a drought early warning system and are working on a desalination program to prepare for water emergencies.