El Niño May Not Help California Drought

El Niño was expected to bring the rain California has been desperately needing. But recent models indicate that the El Niño in place in the Pacific Ocean may, in fact, do nothing for water-desperate California.

According to CBS San Francisco, there is “no guarantee the rain will fall where California needs it most.”

The news organization said its conversations with NASA Oceanographer Bill Patzert paint a dire picture for the Golden State, which is currently rationing water for all residents as it grapples with the worst drought in recent memory.

El Niño, which is a warming in the Pacific Ocean which brings weather changes across the entire United States – namely increased moisture in California – should bring rain to the state, but it won’t be enough, Patzert told CBS San Francisco.

Even the heavy rain forecast in Southern California is not a drought buster. The area is engineered with concrete channels designed not to capture water. Instead, water is flushed out to the ocean to protecthomes from flooding.

“We made a decision in Southern California many years ago to turn our great rivers into flood control channels,” said Patzert. “Remember, there’s only one thing that’s more important in California than water — real estate!”

The state’s largest reservoirs are in Northern California where El Niño storms are much less likely to hit.

He also warned that the state needs additional snow fall in the upper elevations across the state, which is less likely due to the warming that takes place with El Niño.

El Niño’s warmth this year, it turns out, could be blamed on the effects of global warming, according to Eurasia Review. The website quoted the World Meteorological Association, which says the conditions for this year’s El Niño are different than El Niños past, with the most recent one being during the 1997-1998 years.

The difference from this year to the previous year is the loss of about 1 million square kilometers of snow in the Northern Hemisphere, according to David Carlson. Eurasia Review reports that Carlson is the director of the World Climate Research Program at the WMO.

“This is a new planet and we fully do not understand the new patterns emerging. The truth is we don’t know what will happen. Will the two patterns reinforce each other? Will they cancel each other? Are they going to act in sequence? We have no precedent for this situation,” Carlson was quoted as saying.

What do you think? Is climate change to blame for a potentially warmer El Niño? And do you think California will get the rain and snow it needs to bust the drought? Tell us in the comments section.

[Photo via Flickr Creative Commons]

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