RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The strongest drought in 10 years will continue this winter as a persistent La Niña remains in place, Climate Prediction Center said.

More than 68 percent of the continental U.S. currently meets drought criteria, with more than 13 percent of the nation considered within an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.

The latest drought outlook from the Climate Prediction Center forecasts increasing drought conditions in North Carolina over the coming months.

Recent rain and storms have likely delayed the onset of the drought, but regardless, a La Niña will likely lead to dry conditions, reports show.

“Anytime we have a La Niña in place in the Winter, there’s a pretty good chance that we will be warmer than normal and drier than normal overall,” Corey Davis, the Assistant State Climatologist, said.

The good news is CBS 17’s Storm Team expects the La Niña to come to an end this spring, helping introduce better chances of rain.

Davis said we are likely to “return to a neutral or even an El Niño pattern which would usually mean a little better chance of precipitation.”

The hope is the precipitation increases just in time for the growing season next spring.