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Does Wet Start To Season Bode Well For California's Drought?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – We are far from out of the woods when it comes to California's historic drought.

But forecasters gave a glimmer of hope with the first winter weather prediction of the season.

The forecast doesn't bode well for seeing major drought relief and actually may expand the drought a bit in the southeast. But while we have equal chances of wetter or dryer precipitation in California, the state has had a pretty good start to rainfall in October.

An atmospheric river of moisture started the wet season.

"To get one this early is pretty encouraging, this is something we might typically see in January or February," said Eric Kurth with the National Weather Service.

So far, this is the wettest October since 2000, the 14th-wettest since records date back to 1877, and the month isn't even over yet.

But did it put any dent in the drought?

Only slight improvements. Thursday's drought monitor shows drought conditions dropped completely from the coastal range – good news. But for the valley, only in El Dorado County was there a slight improvement from severe to moderate drought.

"To really make a serious dent in the drought, it's really going to be a snowpack issue," Kurth said.

The Sierra snowpack is California's natural water reservoir and that's what we really need to see build up for help.

The above average temperature forecast for all of the state of California could put a hamper on wet season hopes.

"If temperatures tend to be above normal, snow levels can be higher and then also the melting can be higher too," Kurth said.

Which means less snowpack.

The precipitation forecast places Southern California in the below average category. For Northern California, the forecast is near normal. So with an average amount of rain say for Sacramento - which is about 20 inches - we would still see drought improvements.

With these early season systems, don't be surprised to see reservoir water released. They do so for flood control and are still trying to keep water in the rivers for the fish.

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