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December Rains Are A 'Good Omen' For California's Drought

(Photo by Karol Franks via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Though the rain may have helped LAX turn into a nightmare of delayed flights and other irritations on the busiest days of the year, JPL climatologist Bill Patzert says that the storms are a "good omen."As you must know, we've been in a pretty severe drought for the past several years. The past five years have been the driest years on record since record keeping began almost 140 years ago. Hopes were high for El Niño to come and wash away our troubles via some torrential downpours, but the results were less than impressive in Southern California, despite being previously touted as "too big to fail."

El Niño is typically followed by a dry winter, but recent rain storms, not to mention additional rainfall anticipated for the weekend, have accounted for more rain this December than last December, Patzert told the L.A. Times. Patzert says this is a good sign for January, February and March.

“The kind of rain we’re having this week and last week, that’s just perfect. It doesn’t come at you like a fire hose," he said.

New data from the U.S. Drought Monitor released on Thursday indicates that 15 percent of the state is drought-free, while another 15 percent is "abnormally dry," the San Francisco Examiner reports. "Abnormally dry" sound bad, but it really means that while dry, it's not quite yet a drought. This is the best conditions have been since 2013. Of course, these patches are all in Northern California.

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(Image via U.S. Drought Monitor)
California's Department of Water Resources announced earlier this week that water agencies may now receive 45 percent of their total allotments, versus the previously estimated 20 percent, according to the Daily Breeze.

That said, conservation is still important and a wet December is no guarantee of the months to come. Department of Water Resources director Mark Cowin said in a statement, "This winter’s wet start gives us hope we’ll be able to keep increasing the State Water Project allocation. But the faucet can shut off suddenly and leave us dry for a sixth year in a row. Drought always looms over California, so we must use water wisely and sparingly."

So, if you're stuck sitting around LAX and growing increasingly cranky, just remember that this rain is ultimately good for us, even if it's screwing up your travel plans. KPCC recommends using your extra time at LAX to take an art walk.