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NOAA Says Watch For La Niña As El Niño Weakens

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The 2015-16 winter was near average in northern California, where Sierra Nevada snowpack helped fill key reservoirs. Snow near Twin Bridges, California in March 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center reports that El Niño is weakening, but likely to stick around a couple more months. At the same time, NOAA issued a formal watch for a late summer, early fall arrival of La Niña.

El Niño is the natural warming of parts of the tropical Pacific that alters weather worldwide. La Niña, with cooler Pacific waters, often has opposite effects.

041416 LA NOAA Landscape

NOAA says La Niña often means dry weather for parts of California.

Despite a near-average snowpack in the northern Sierra this winter, El Niño conditions did not bring the heavy precipitation forecast for southern California.041416 LANOAA-Reservoirs

The state's largest reservoirs, Shasta and Oroville, are above their historical averages to date.

But further south, where rain and snow was less plentiful, reservoirs haven't fared as well.

041416 LA NOAA-Reservoirs (not Snowpack)

During the historic drought, Californians have been ordered to use at least 20 percent less water compared to use in 2013.

041416 LANOAA-NWSAC WYpctofnormal

This graphic from the National Weather Service in Sacramento, shows the percent of normal precipitation from Oct 1, 2015 to April 1, 2016. Overall, central and northern California received much more precipitation than the southern part of the state this winter.


The U.S. Drought Monitor recently said that drought persists into a fifth year in the state.

"Long-term severe to extreme drought is still entrenched across much of central and southern California, as reflected by less frequent storms during the 2015-16 wet season; still-low reservoir levels; less robust mountain snowpack; and continuing groundwater shortages," according to March 24 report


031716 DROMON-Seasonal Sdohomeweb 


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