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El Niño Likely No Help For Northern California's Reservoirs

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Don't expect El Niño to end the drought or increase rain and snow in Northern California.   

"The strongest signal for El Niño for the storm track to increase in activity is for Southern California," says Meteorologist Michelle Mead, with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. "California is a pretty large state, and, while we do have reservoirs in Southern California, the major reservoirs that are responsible for the water management of the state are actually located in Northern California." 

Res Conditions 082615


Mead says from October 2014 through August 26, 2015 - nearly 11 months - downtown Sacramento has received 13.8 inches of precipitation. 

"But the normal for downtown Sacramento is 19.92 inches through August," says Mead. "So, we are still short about 6 inches of precipitation. We’re definitely behind the 8-ball when it comes to our water year numbers."

The water year is from October through September.

She says the last time downtown Sacramento received a half-inch of rain was April 24, 2015 and the last time more than an inch fell in Sacramento was February 8, 2015, with 1.07 inches.

"Here in the inland region, outside of a stray thunderstorm here or there, we haven’t seen a lot of precipitation, so our drought conditions have definitely worsened," says Mead.

Mead says the seasonal outlook shows precipitation increasing over the winter months in the "Central Valley and points south" but she says that's "not a guarantee."


082015  Seasonal Drought

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