California’s recent storms help relieve severe drought

California's recent storms help relieve severe drought

Chris Gillhaus - Staff Writer, Photo courtesy of Google Images

December, January and February have blessed California with the most rain it has seen in decades. In fact, the abnormally large amount of rain may have brought California out of its longstanding drought.

For Californians, the drought has become an accepted reality. The past few dry years have led to restrictions on usage of water, from watering lawns to serving glasses of water at restaurants. According to United States Drought Monitor, all of Central and Southern Calif. was classified as being in either an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought in Feb. 2016. In Feb. 2017, those same areas are now either free of drought or classified as in a “moderate” drought.

“I’m starting to feel like I’m back home in New York,” said junior Aliey Melnick. “All this rain and cold weather makes it feel like a real winter.”

In Jan. 2017, Los Angeles surpassed its median level of rainfall by over 200 percent. According to Los Angeles Almanac, Los Angeles received 8.38 inches of rain in January. The median amount of rain in January in Los Angeles is 3.12 inches. The spike of precipitation is also

evident in the December statistics. December in Los Angeles saw 4.55 inches of rain as opposed to the median amount of 2.33 inches.

“You’ve seen jumps in snowpack and precipitation amounts,” said state climatologist Michael Anderson.

“You look at the charts, you see the line just pretty much go straight up. For most of the state, the end [of the drought] ‘is in the realm of possibility’ now, which is kind of a nice thing to think about.”

The series of massive storms that is responsible for the level of rainfall is known as “El Niño.” According to Live Science, El Niño is a climate cycle that shifts warm water in the Pacific Ocean eastward. In recent years,  Southern Calif. has been predicted to receive an El Niño storm, but 2016 saw the first one to actually arrive. Although California is not completely out of the drought, the rainfall levels have cleared California from severe drought status.