SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The recent dry weather in Northern California might be sticking around for a while.
The Climate Prediction Center forecasts a 77% chance La Niña conditions will continue through the month of May.
The term La Niña refers to a correlation between ocean water temperatures and winter weather patterns.
Oftentimes, the weather event brings wetter than normal conditions to the Pacific Northwest and drier weather to Southern California.
Idamis Del Valle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, explained to FOX40 that for residents living in the middle La Niña can tilt either way.
“La Niña will likely continue into the spring,” Del Valle said. “Equal chances of either above or below normal precipitation meaning that we’re pretty much dependent on the individual storms.”
“We would probably need at least two atmospheric river storms to finish the water year at or above-normal precipitation,” Del Valle added.
Bottom line: It’s not looking good, but there is still time to at least hope for a March miracle.
Dr. Andrew Schwartz is a researcher at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Summit.
“If the last couple months have taught us anything, it’s that we can have those large swings that’ll bring in a lot of precipitation, or we could wind up where we were for the last month and be completely dry,” Schwartz explained. “These extremes are going to get more extreme. So even if we had 200% of our annual snowpack at this moment, we have to remain in conservation mode because every drop saved is going to matter at a later date.”
Drought and conservation were top of mind as the California Water Commission met on Zoom for several hours Wednesday.
The speakers included John Yarbough, assistant deputy director at the State Water Project.
“October, wettest year on record, then one of the driest Novembers, one of the wettest Decembers, one of the driest Januarys. So, this oscillation between extremes really becomes a challenge as we’re planning out making decisions about what drought actions are needed,” Yarbough said.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Yarbough talked about the need to approach the water situation differently with the following recommendations:
- Consider more extreme scenarios when planning
- Adjust water supply forecasting approaches
- Increase cross-agency coordination
With the La Niña weather pattern causing so much uncertainty, this might be a good time to reflect and be extra thankful for what December delivered.
“And yeah, even though we haven’t gotten more snow here at the lab, we still have five feet underfoot. So, it’s not a complete loss,” Schwartz said.