Jan 4, 2016
Will this El Niño end the drought?
Wednesday Jan 13, 2016
That's virtually an impossibility. By one calculation, California’s mountainous north would need 2.5 times to three times its average precipitation to end this drought, and the record is just nearly double the average annual rain and snowfall.
A big question is also what comes after this El Niño ends -- and it could be renewed drought.
"My scenario is that the El Niño delivers as expected, and then El Niño switches to a La Niña, which is what happened in 1998," Patzert said, which brings drought. "It went into two years of below-normal snowpack and rainfall," and the start of a dry spell.
El Niño historically can't be counted on to keep California wet. The last big El Niño came 17 years ago, and they come too infrequently for California to rely on. California gets more of its water over a 25-year period from storms from the Gulf of Alaska and Pineapple Expresses instead.
"Over a 25-year period, over the long term, El Niño provides only 7% of our water. So as much as we’re hyping it, it’s not a big player," Patzert said. "It’s fast and furious, but it’s too irregular – the gap between El Niños is too long to build any statues to El Niño to be a drought-buster. If we were going to build a drought-buster statue downtown, it would be North Pacific storms or Pineapple Expresses."