California To Get Relief from Drought: El Niño to the Rescue

Forecasters Predict a Rainy Winter

California is finally set to get some drought relief …

Specifically, forecasters say a strong El Niño is heading our way.

Time gives odds:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there is now a 90% chance that El Niño will last through the winter and an 80% chance it will last into spring 2016.

As does the Los Angeles Times:

Scientists say the likelihood that a significant El Niño will happen is more than 90%, and some models suggest there is a nearly 100% chance it will be strong this fall.

El Niño increases rainfall in California.

Forecasters say this could be the strongest El Niño in 50 years.  USA Today notes:

There is growing evidence California could see an even stronger El Niño event this winter than the 1997 one that caused massive flooding across Northern California.

Indeed, it could be so large that it sets “a new all-time record

However, even a very wet winter probably won’t be enough to erase California’s drought.  Scientific American reports:

“California would probably need to experience its wettest year on record (by a fairly wide margin) to erase ongoing deficits in a single year,” Swain wrote on his blog. “While it’s not physically impossible, that would be a very tall order, indeed.”

Wired provides figures:

The state would need about 150 percent of its normal rainfall to replenish its reservoirs (the groundwater situation is a little bit trickier).

See this and this for related stories.

Note: Wired and Accuweather point out that there are other factors which could still derail a wet winter.

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