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Rain returns to California, but not enough to end the drought

Rain predicted in parched California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Meteorologists forecast a pair of storms could dump several inches of rain on parched cities and croplands throughout California in the coming week, bringing welcome news to a state that has just endured its driest year in recorded history.

While the rain won't be enough to end the drought, the National Weather Service projected Sunday that the much-needed precipitation could nearly double the amount of rainfall in parts of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area this year.

By next Saturday, the twin Pacific storms are expected to bring as much as 2 inches of rain to the coast and several feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada.

The first storm on Wednesday won't offer much relief, just light overnight rains heading into Thursday. By Friday, radar images show the second storm should drench the entire state for 24 hours.

"We're not calling it a drought-buster, but it definitely will make a difference," said Jim Bagnall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford, one of many San Joaquin Valley towns where farmers have fallowed crops in anticipation of record low water supplies. "With these few storms, we could see about an inch total in the valley. So this could obviously have some significant impact."

The wet weather is badly needed: Since July 1, only 5.85 inches of rain have fallen in San Francisco, or about 35 percent of normal for this time of year. Just 1.2 inches have fallen in downtown Los Angeles, compared to 10.45 inches in a normal year.

The heavy rains will likely lead to flash flooding and runoff, carrying mud, trees and debris in areas burned in recent fires, such as the Colby fire, near Glendora.

"People who live around the burn areas need to be aware that Friday and Saturday could be potentially dangerous days," said Andrew Rorke, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

At higher elevations, the storms could blanket the Sierra in several feet of snow reaching down as low as about 4,500 feet, Bagnall said.

Looking further into the future, meteorologists say computer models show another sign of hope: greater chances that this year could see El Nino conditions and accompanying rainfall.

The San Jose Mercury News reports (http://bit.ly/1fmbIyT) researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in November there was a 36 percent chance of El Nino conditions developing by August 2014. NOAA recently updated that probability to 49 percent.

"There's been an uptick recently. More models favor El Niño," said Jon Gottschalck, acting chief of operational prediction at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md. "We certainly don't want to promise anything, but conditions are looking better."

Scientists are quick to say that El Nino conditions don't guarantee that California will get intense rainfall. But if the pattern is strong and temperatures are warm in the Pacific Ocean, the likelihood of heavy rainfall increases.

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windanseasalvage February 24 2014 at 9:07 PM

Whatever happened to Desalinization plants. Seems like the longterm bang for the buck. Californians have no problem coughing up a couple dollars for some so called spring water. Other than that, we should admit that Southern California is one big desert. We should restrict water use to in house use only. Eliminating lush lawns and gardens would also enhance our immigration issues.

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b111ybob February 24 2014 at 4:00 PM

BLAME THOSE HIPPIES ENVIRONLIST FOR THE PROBLEM NOT THE WEATHER OR WORKING JOHN DOE

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tenyrsafter1 February 24 2014 at 1:52 PM

I spent my young years in Sonoma and it poured all winter, but was a paradise otherwise.What climate change you ask.

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pulletsurprise2 February 24 2014 at 1:07 PM

And now they're fracking out there. Poor Californians. They're not only going to be without water but they'll be plagued with earthquakes. One only has to look to Oklahoma to see just what havoc can be brought on by fracking; earthquakes in that state were as rare as hen's teeth before fracking began. Now, however, earthquakes are nearly everyday occurrances. Coupled with the looming catastrophe of the San Andreas fault, I believe that we can say bye-bye to the half of California which will become non-existent.

The big question is: where are "they" getting the water to perform the fracking process? It takes literally millions of gallons of water - along with untold amounts of highly toxic chemicals for the fracking process. Pity the farmers and those who rely on ground water for everyday needs.

I guess we all should be thankful for having the 1% who look out for all the rest of us in the 99%. Believe that and I'll sell you a bridge......cheap.

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b111ybob February 24 2014 at 4:02 PM

ONLY A HIPPY COMMIE WOULD ANSWER THAT WAY

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Vimala Nowlis February 24 2014 at 12:51 PM

If they can build thousands of miles of pipes for oil, why can't they build thousands of miles of pipes for water? You can live without oil, but you can't live without water. Northeast has way too much snow and ice, ship some to CA to relief the draught.

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b111ybob February 24 2014 at 4:03 PM

THE HIPPY ENVIRO FOR THAT QUESTION

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mfgarrison February 24 2014 at 12:40 PM

O Almighty Obama visits, talks about the drought and voila!

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lnl80388 February 24 2014 at 12:40 PM

So does this mean the price of Milk will now go down!

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Vimala Nowlis February 24 2014 at 12:53 PM

Milk? That's Mid West. CA gows "food".

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Beautiful February 24 2014 at 11:38 AM

Wet years and dry years is the way of California.
I wish haters of California would come and drive the length and breadth Of this huge diverse state.
California is not all L.A., it is as big as japan.

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bryanmerrittper2 February 24 2014 at 11:25 AM

I have lived here in SO Cal all my life I am 68 years old and I can remember when I was young we got a lot more rain and even an occasional snow but for the last 30 years or so we have seen much less and now with so many people coming coming here water usage is up a lot and I wonder if the added water usage and the auto traffic ( all the freeway's are jammed packed with cars ) if this might have an effect on the local weather. I also think the military is experimenting with ways to change the weather to use as a weapon . There is a documentary on this.

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Beautiful February 24 2014 at 10:49 AM

Help! I am surrounded with religious troglodytes that keep saying this drought is a direct result of the existence of gays. Why are there so many superstitious people today, and why do they embrace the Teaparty and why do they hate most everything?
I swear, sometimes I think we are moving into a neo dark age period.

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