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.
A strong El Niño is forecast to bring above-average precipitation this winter. But, it also creates dangerous flooding potential too, especially in areas recently scarred by wildfires.
Strong El Niño forecast expected through Spring.
Despite a potential strong El Niño, the drought in most of California is forecast to continue into a fifth year.
(AP) - A Northern California city has ordered restaurants to cut back on dishwashing by using disposable plates and cups as a way to save water amid the state's fourth year of drought.
Water storage has dwindled at six major reservoirs in California.