Last week's monster rains flooded streets and drowned cars throughout Los Angeles, but this week's higher temperatures and sunny skies serve as a reminder that one watery week doesn't erase the years of hardcore drought that have dragged on in SoCal and all of California. The record-breaking rains are a reason to be excited, certainly, but "Although this is a favorable start to the year, there are still 3-4 more critical months that will determine how much rain/snow will fall and accumulate during the wet season," David Miskus, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center and Drought Specialist, tells the state's Office of Emergency Services.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's running tallies of LA's rainfall for the year and for the month reflect both the heavy rains thus far in 2016 and the lingering effects of the drought. Even though the region got more than double what it'd normally see in the month of January, it's running more than an inch and a half short of normal for the whole water year so far (which began in October).
"I would say it's great to see near to above-normal precipitation and colder temperatures at this time, but there is still a long way to go with this winter's precipitation and much uncertainty," Miskus said. "Remember this drought is 4 years accumulation, so it will probably take several wet winters in a row, plus summer water conservation, to get the ground water back to normal and the reservoirs filled."
On a statewide level, things are still pretty dire. That dark red color on the United States Drought Monitor denotes "exceptional drought" and it covers a good portion of the state as of this month. According to the Drought Monitor, "The consensus from California experts is that recovery will be slow, and many more storm events are needed through the rest of winter to really put a dent in the drought." Just a dent, though. Experts predict that by March, the drought will still be around, but its stronghold on the state will have weakened.