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Climate and Environment

The Weather Might Seem Unusual, But This Is What A Normal Rainy Season Looks Like

A satellite image of the Earth showing swirling clouds.
An atmospheric river brought rain and snow to California on Tuesday.
(Courtesy Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere )
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This most recent storm system brought about half an inch of rain to Southern California, and another is expected this weekend, which is wonderful.

Given how dry it’s been this past decade, it’s easy to forget that this is what an average rainy season looks like.

What is normal?

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Here in Los Angeles, the amount of precipitation we’ve seen since Oct. 1 is slightly above average, while the state as a whole is still trailing a bit behind.

Our snowpack is nearly double what we’d often see by this date, though a lot more has to fall if we’re going to reach “normal” by April 1, the end of California’s rainy season.

What happened to La Niña?

A La Niña advisory is still in effect, and while it’s often associated with a drier winter here in Southern California, so far we’ve done pretty well.

An image of a world globe centered in the Americas, with temperature descriptions through U.S. regions of drier, wetter, colder and warmer conditions.
Winter time La Niña pattern.
(Courtesy NOAA Climate)

The climate change angle

Even if we see an average amount of precipitation, higher temperatures (and a thirstier atmosphere) dry out our landscapes faster than they usually would, exacerbating drought conditions.

What do you want to know about fires, earthquakes, climate change or any science-related topics?
Jacob Margolis helps Southern Californians understand the science shaping our imperfect paradise and gets us prepared for what’s next.

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