Dry conditions are linked to more frequent and severe dust storms and wildfires.
Dr. Linda Rudolph from the non-profit Public Health Institute says the associated particulate matter is bad news for people with lung problems and heart disease.
"There might be an increased risk of pneumonia for people who are exposed to a lot of dust. In fact in the dust bowl in the 30’s, there were hundreds to thousands of deaths from what people called ‘dust pneumonia.'"
~Dr. Linda Rudolph, Public Health Institute
Rudolph says drought can dry up well water and increase water contamination in areas already struggling to get access to clean water.
She also says drought affects agricultural production, which rolls into problems with food prices and unemployment.
And those circumstances add more obstacles to staying healthy.
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.