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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: El Niño Storms Into San Diego

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.

San Diego may have been drenched by El Niño-driven storms this week. But the latest update from the KPBS Drought Tracker shows the rest of California is still on track for a relatively average wet season.

This week, San Diego county received a whopping 17 percent of its normal annual rainfall in just three days.

"It does seem like this has been the first real impact we've had in Southern California from El Niño," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate researcher David Pierce.

But storms that drenched Southern California didn't make a large impact up north. Statewide rain and snowfall remain fairly typical for this time of year.

As of Friday morning, California had received 47 percent of the rain it normally receives during the annual wet season, which lasts from October 1 to April 1. The Sierra snowpack was at 46 percent of what normally builds up by April 1.

Pierce, who helped compile this data, said those numbers lie right on the normal curve for this time of year.

"So, while in San Diego we're now running ahead of an average year with the amount of water we've gotten so far, for the rest of California it's really just about average so far," he said.

However, Pierce says average is still an improvement over recent years, when rain and snow figures had already sunk far below normal at this time of year.

Looking back to 1998, rain and snow were at similar levels at this time of year. Still, that year went on to deliver one of the wettest El Niños on record.


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