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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Dry In San Diego, Stormy Up North

DATA SOURCES: Rainfall data comes from a weighted average of 96 weather stations throughout the state. Snowpack data represents the average of three different multi-station measures of the northern, central and southern Sierra snowpack. Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers, through the California Nevada Applications Program RISA and the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, helped compile the data.

Aired 1/22/16 on KPBS News.

After an early burst of El Niño-driven storms, San Diego has stayed pretty dry. But recent storms in Northern California have kept rain and snow levels climbing steadily.

San Diego has stayed pretty dry after an early burst of El Niño-driven storms drenched Southern California in early January. But recent storms in Northern California have kept rain and snow levels climbing steadily.

So far this wet season, statewide rain and snowfall have been just about average. The latest update from the KPBS Drought Tracker shows that average trend holding strong.

As of Thursday morning, California had accumulated 63 percent of the rain it normally receives between Oct. 1 and April 1. The Sierra snowpack was at 62 percent of its normal level on April 1.

Those numbers are improvements over previous years in the drought, but they’re still average. With more than 42 percent of California continuing to experience "exceptional" drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, the drought is far from over.

However, there is a silver lining.

"Northern California has been getting some precipitation recently, which is good," said David Pierce, a climate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who helped compile data for the KPBS Drought Tracker.

"That’s where a lot of the state’s water supply comes from," he said.

Storms may not be hitting San Diego, but they’re still making an impact in other parts of the state. Rain and snow levels on the KPBS Drought Tracker both jumped 10 percent or more over the past week.

Pierce says El Niño hasn't delivered strong storm activity to California yet. But it's good to see storms to tracking north, where they can dump snow on the crucial Sierra snowpack.

"During strong El Niños, the northern part of the state gets more engaged," Pierce said. "And certainly over the past week or two, there’s been more activity in the northern part of the state."

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