California drought concerns grow through the summer. El Nino this winter could provide some relief.
Dry and warm weather continues to elevate the drought concerns in California.
The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor shows 33 percent of the state in the most critical drought category, exceptional drought. This area grew about eight percent from just a week ago. The new areas covered in this category include more of the San Joaquin Valley, southern Sierra and parts of Shasta, Plumas and Lassen counties.
Extreme and exceptional drought together covers 77 percent of the state. All of California remains in severe drought.
Reservoir levels are now starting to go down as well. The state is past peak inflow for reservoirs, and Folsom Lake has dropped to 49 percent of capacity. Most Northern California reservoirs are now below 45 percent of capacity.
Relief may come in the form of a growing El Nino event setting up in the equatorial Pacific waters. El Nino is the warming of Pacific waters, which in some years has provided abundant rainfall for California.
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75 to 80 percent chance of a moderate El Nino event October through December. This isn't a guarantee for rain, but it gives a slightly better chance of seeing above normal precipitation.