About six months ago, when Los Angeles finally got lucky enough to see a pretty strong storm pass through, climate scientists said that there wasn't any reason to believe an El Niño was building. But flash forward to right now—when parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico are fully underwater, and the days are averaging cooler and wetter across Southern California—and some scientists are changing their tune, says the LA Times. These conditions are making some climate scientists "cautiously optimistic" that an El Niño could be on its way, which is making them cautiously optimistic about a little drought relief.
A strong El Niño could mean more sorely needed rain in the middle of the severe, years-long drought raging across the entire state of California, but that's heavily contingent on these cool, rainy conditions sticking around. What difference would a good, soggy year make when California's been parched for so long? "Can one big year ease the drought conditions? Yes, it can," says a state climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources. "It can definitely replenish the surface storage and can have some benefit to starting to replenish some of the groundwater."
But that's still really just a drop in the bucket. "This drought is not a one shot deal [in which] when it goes away, everything goes back to normal," says a Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist, noting that depressingly low snowpack and overall warmer temperatures will help make water (and the lack of it) an issue for years to come.
And there's no guarantee or anything anyway. These hypotheticals will only play out if California gets a strong El Niño, the kind that scientists say are "reliable forecasters" for above average rainfall. (Weak El Niños can actually bring drier weather.) And no matter what happens, it's probably best to keep dramatically cutting back on water, regardless of how overcast and gray it gets, because "Dry years, after all, have been the rule, not the exception for California and the rest of the Southwest for the better part of 15 years."
· Hopes rise for a strong El Niño to ease California drought [LAT]
· Only 12 to 20 More Of These Storms And the Drought is Over! [Curbed LA]
· This is California's Worst Drought Since 800 AD [Curbed LA]