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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Record-Breaking Winter About To Get Even Wetter

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.

An update from the KPBS Drought Tracker shows that strong storms rolling into California starting Friday are about to make the state's already wet winter even wetter.

An update from the KPBS Drought Tracker shows that strong storms rolling into California starting Friday are about to make the state's already wet winter even wetter.

California's traditionally defined wet season, which stretches from Oct. 1 to April 1, isn't over yet. But current rain and snow levels have already blown way past what normally falls during an entire season.

As of Friday morning, statewide rainfall was at 142 percent of normal for April 1, and the average Sierra snowpack measurement is at 144 percent of normal for the full wet season.

"It's actually a record-breaking winter so far," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate researcher David Pierce, who helped compile this data.

"In the data we have, which goes back to generally about 1950, we've seen more accumulated precipitation to date in the state than in any other year," Pierce said.

However, some areas around Los Angeles have continued to stay relatively dry. But Pierce says this weekend's storms are forecast to hit those areas hard.

"We already know it's going to end up being a quite wet year," he said. "I think we're going to end this year in a good spot. The only question is whether we're going to have some flooding from these really intense storms."

Pierce attributes this year's heavy precipitation to atmospheric rivers, which he describes as "tendrils of moisture that come up from the tropical Pacific," hitting the state one after another.

"It's pretty well known from research done by my colleagues here at Scripps, as well as others, that a series of atmospheric rivers typically is the thing that ends California droughts," he said.

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