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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Stay Tuned For El Niño Rain

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.

Don't let a smattering of weekend showers fool you — California has so far not been getting unusually high levels of precipitation.

San Diego received a smattering of rain over the weekend. But according to the KPBS Drought Tracker, California has so far not been getting unusually high levels of precipitation this rainy season.

As of Monday morning, California had racked up 26 percent of the statewide rainfall it normally receives between Oct. 1 and April 1. The average Sierra snowpack level was at 21 percent of what normally piles up by April 1.

Compared to recent years in the drought, this hasn't been a particularly dry season — but it also hasn't been the wettest.

"Everything seems to be pretty close to the normal line," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate researcher Sam Iacobellis. "To 'bust the drought,' of course we'd like to see much higher than normal."

So far, Iacobellis said there's no cause to worry about the drought getting worse. But there's also no reason to celebrate yet.

Iacobellis noted that Monday's rain and snow levels weren't so different from the levels observed on the same day in 1997, when the last strong El Niño was just warming up. He says current conditions still offer hope that storms could build up in January and February, putting a real dent in the drought.


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