El Niño Storms Begin in Drought-Ridden California

As the first of many El Niño storms began to arrive this past Tuesday, California officials have continued to emphasize water conservation after the state missed mandated conservation targets in two consecutive months. Californians have been urged to not abandon conservation efforts, despite the heavy rains expected over the coming weeks. Though the increase in precipitation is much needed, one strong El Niño season is unlikely to make up for the four years of drought the state has faced.

El Niño, the periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that occurs every 2-7 years, results in significant impacts on weather patterns and ocean temperatures during El Niño years. This year’s El Niño is tied with the 1997-98’s as the strongest on record, but according to data from the NOAA, it appears to have already peaked. Despite this, the effects of El Niño are expected to remain strong throughout the winter and into late spring, bringing increased precipitation across California and parts of the Western and Southern United States. The National Weather Service has forecast that this first set of storms alone could bring 15 inches of rain to Northern California and 14 inches of snow to the highest points of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Unfortunately, this increase in precipitation could cause mudslides and flooding, as seen in previous El Niño years.

cpc-jan-mar-2016-precip-outlook

For more information on El Niño, check out this previous post from the Wahaso blog.

About the Writer: Emily Avellana is a senior majoring in marketing at Elmhurst College and a Marketing Assistant at Wahaso.