Winter not expected to end California drought

AP Photo/Rich PedroncelliIn this photo taken Sept. 17

Parts of California could receive above-average rain and snow this winter but not enough to end the worsening drought, federal forecasters said Thursday. As a result, the drought likely will persist or intensify, said Mike Halpert, acting director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. The announcement predicts precipitation for December through February, when snow falls in the Sierra Nevada mountains forming a snowpack that later melts as runoff and flows to rivers and reservoirs.

The forecast puts the state on course for a fourth drought year after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January.

Central Valley farmers have left thousands of acres unplanted and drawn heavily on groundwater rather than mountain runoff. Hundreds of residential wells have run dry, and the state has instituted fines for residents caught wasting water.

Forecasters have said 60 percent of California is in exceptional drought, and 2013 was the state's driest year on record.

A much-awaited tropical weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean, called an El Nino, has yet to form, forecasters said. The strong tropical systems often bring more moisture into California over the winter.

Halpert said there is a 67 percent chance of a weak El Nino occurring by the year's end, offering little help.

“Even in the best case, there's going to be serious drought in most parts of the state when the winter is over,” Halpert said.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Star of 49ers win, Mostert consoled injured teammate: “We’re brothers”

Raheem Mostert, who broke his arm against the Oakland Raiders in 2018, was able to empathize with some of the pain that Coleman was experiencing

The Niners faithful recall a different time as they celebrate their team’s victory

Minutes from Candlestick Park, the ancestral home of the 49ers, several of… Continue reading

The Niners are going to the Super Bowl

With a 37-20 win over the visiting Green Bay Packers, the 49ers punched their tickets to Miami, FL

Photos: San Francisco 49ers fans tailgate at Levi’s

San Francisco 49ers fans tailgate at Levi’s Stadium before the big game

SF Lives: Divorcing San Francisco

“This is a town that thrived on being eclectic. I don’t think we can recover,”

Most Read