WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The recent winter weather has impacted travel, yet it helped some counties in the area experiencing a drought.

Rain, snow, and a wintry mix: Conditions that swept across NEPA last week, leaving a blanket of Winter weather in its path. Although the storm caused a messy travel weekend during the holiday season, the precipitation provided some relief to five counties experiencing a drought watch.

“We don’t want to ignore those dry conditions because if it stops raining, things can become very, very serious,” said Susan Weaver, Pennsylvania Department Environmental Program Manager/Commonwealth Drought Coordinator.

Susan weaver with the dep explains that counties including Luzerne, Carbon, and Schuylkill have been under a watch since August, back when a total of 36 counties were declared a drought watch after a dry summer.

“We’ve received a lot of precipitation over the past several months. Indicators are returning to normal, but our water suppliers, some of the, have not returned to normal operations,” stated Weaver.

A “watch” is the first stage of a drought, and officials say they monitor several factors including precipitation, stream levels, and public water supplies.

For those who live in a drought-watch county, you are asked to reduce water use by at least five percent.

Some easy ways to conserve where you can include running the dishwasher and washing machine if they’re fully loaded, immediately fixing any water leaks, and taking shorter showers.

Weaver says without the recent storms we’ve had and other forms of relief the drought watch could worsen to a warning or emergency level.

“Water is you know, precious to all of us and certainly when conditions get dry, we really need everyone to step up to the plate to start changing some of the behaviors that they have,” explained Weaver.

Weaver says the Pennsylvania Drought Task Force will meet in early January to assess the drought conditions and possibly remove restrictions.