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Underwhelming LA Rain Totals From the El Niño Winter Are In

The LA area got a little over half a normal year's rainfall this year, according to one estimate

While the northern part of California has seen encouraging levels of water in many of their reservoirs, Southern California is still mired in drought, so desperate for rain that we've even seeded the clouds with iodide in an attempt to coerce more precipitation out of them when El Niño alone wasn't getting the job done. Now, as we approach the first day of April, the typical rainy season draws to a close and it looks like Southern California has had a solidly below average year, says KPCC.

Apparently, greater LA has seen about 58.7 percent of the rainfall it gets in a normal year. The station keeps its own count of rain totals using information from 20 weather stations across the LA area, ranging from the coast (Santa Barbara, Newport) to inland areas like Redlands, and weighs data depending on weather station locations and past weather history.

By this metric, created by David Pierce, an expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, a score of 100 percent would mean an average year. So LA is pretty far below normal.

Greater LA exists in "sort of a bullseye of dryness between, say, Oxnard and Mission Viejo," Pierce tells KPCC, calling the area "an outlier compared to the rest of the state," definitely not meaning it in that positive, Malcolm Gladwell way. Some are still holding out hope, not pronouncing El Niño dead yet.

A rep for the National Weather Service's San Diego office tells the Idyllwild Town Crier that the ocean warming phenomenon is still present off the coast, it's just not doing anything for SoCal. "A very warm El Niño water system continues along the California coast, but we’re not sure why the usual pattern has not responded." Expected storms showed up, he said, but didn't pass by SoCal—blame a high-pressure ridge that pushed them up north.

And why give up hope when three of the last five major El Niños brought intense April showers to Southern California? While Pierce said it was certainly possible that serious downpours could be in the very near future for LA, he did caution that "It's not something you'd want to gamble a lot of money on."