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"Exceptional" Drought Conditions in U.S.'s Most Populous State

<p>Drought conditions in California were elevated to "exceptional" on Thursday - the highest category.</p><p></p><p></p><p></p>
Image: California Drought Dries Up Bay Area Reservoirs
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 28: A car sits in dried and cracked earth of what was the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir on January 28, 2014 in San Jose, California. Now in its third straight year of drought conditions, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and reservoirs throughout the state have low water levels. Santa Clara County reservoirs are at 3 percent of capacity or lower. California Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency to speed up assistance to local governments, streamline water transfers and potentially ease environmental protection requirements for dam releases. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Drought conditions in California were elevated to "exceptional" on Thursday - the highest category, and the first time since a national database was created in 2000 that any part of the state has been categorized as such.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency earlier this month, and the National Weather Service has forecast below normal precipitation for two-thirds of California through April. Parts of California was expected to get some rain on Thursday, though not nearly enough to make up for the widespread water shortage.

U.S. Drought Monitor shows California in the "exceptional" category for the first time since the index was created in 2000
U.S. Drought Monitor shows California in the "exceptional" category for the first time since the index was created in 2000National Climactic Data Center

Seventeen rural communities in the state are in danger of a severe water shortage within four months, according to a list compiled by state officials. Wells are running dry, and reservoirs are nearly empty in some communities.

President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown spoke on Wednesday regarding the drought. The White House says Obama told Brown that the federal government will work in tandem with state officials to support California's response. Governor Brown has a crisis meeting today with more than a dozen water leaders from across Southern California.