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Recent Heavy Rain’s Impact On Southern California Drought

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

West Coast weather was turned upside down today when Southern California saw more rain in one day than any day prevoiusly this year.  But even with the historic summer rainfall, California’s multi-year drought will likely endure past its next rainy season for much of the state.

The summer rains came to California thanks to Hurricane Dolores, which surged to a powerful category 4 last week. Since then, the remnant storm has tracked north parallel to to the coast, pumping tropical moisture into the Southwest U.S.

These rainfall totals might not seem like much — all of San Diego’s rainfall so far this month could fall in any number of garden-variety thunderstorms east of the Rockies today — but for Southern California, this is epic summer rain. San Diego’s recent rains were more than what they saw in all of January this year. January is typically San Diego’s second-wettest month in the year, with winter being the rainy season and summer being the dry season.

However, even when California gets epic, super historic, rarely-seen rainfall, it’s not enough to to bring any kind of drought relief to a region that is quite literally running out of water. It won’t even come close.

That’s because, four years into the worst drought the state has ever seen, the rainfall deficit in California is huge, and the recent rain fell over a relatively small region of the state.

The better odds for a drought buster for California are bolstered by the ever-strengthening El Nino in the tropical Pacific, which appears to be on its way to one of the strongest on record. If all of the atmospheric puzzle pieces come together, this year’s El Nino could help California work its way out of the drought — or at least get into a better, wetter position — by providing much-needed wintertime rain and snow.

What California really needs is a few years of average rainfall. Not epic or historic, or even above average. Just a few “normal” years could be enough to put the state back on track.

 

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