By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – A report released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed drought conditions growing across parts of Colorado.

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An area of moderate drought that formed during late summer around Fort Collins has expanded south across Denver and into Douglas County, impacting over 1.5 million people. A second pocket of moderate drought can be found on the east-central plains.

Drought conditions in Colorado on Sept. 17, 2016 (credit: CBS)

Drought conditions in Colorado on Sept. 17, 2016 (credit: CBS)

In the nearby mountains and foothills conditions are abnormally dry, or in pre-drought. The same is true for parts of southern Colorado.

The current drought along Interstate 25 is what we call a meteorological or agricultural drought, meaning a short-term deficit in precipitation is having a significant impact on the landscape. Soils are dry and vegetation is not growing.

Drought conditions in Colorado on Sept. 17, 2016 (credit: CBS)

Drought conditions in Colorado on Sept. 17, 2016 (credit: CBS)

We are not in a hydrological drought which would imply a long period of below normal precipitation and major problems with water supply.

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As of Oct. 20 Denver Water was reporting 89 percent water storage in their reservoir system, which is 3 percent above normal for this time of year.

The healthy number is thanks to abundant snow during 2015 and early 2016.

So what about the forecast for the upcoming winter?

Current long-range models are trending toward the development of La Nina between December and February, which can sometimes be bad for Colorado if it pushes the main storm track too far north.

So while water supply for metro Denver is in good shape as of now, it’s still a good idea to conserve water where possible. That’s because the water outlook for next spring and summer will likely depend on what happens in the mountains this winter.

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Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.