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OPINION: It’s Too Early To Give Up On El Niño

Except for a series of storms the first week of January, the forecasts calling for a Super El Niño for Southern California this winter have not lived up to the predictions – yet.

With California in the midst of a four year drought, the forecasts last fall of a Super El Niño and an above average rainy season (October – March) were most welcome news. Weather forecasters and respected climatologists were all in agreement that there was a 95 percent chance of a “Super El Niño” bringing heavy rain storms and soaking all of California through the spring of 2016.

Heavy Rainfall to Come, Local Meteorologist Predicts

While northern Santa Barbara County still hasn’t seen the heavy rainfall forecast for the El Nino weather phenomenon, the region could certainly get wetter as the historically wetter months approach.
“I wouldn’t call El Nino a bust until at least April,” said John Lindsey, Diablo Canyon Power Plant marine meteorologist.

All indicators point toward heavy rainfall this month and in March, which Lindsey said are typically when northern Santa Barbara County sees the heaviest rainfall.

VIDEO: Can Snow End The Drought?

Checking on the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California to see if there is enough snow to end the historic drought. Dave Malkoff takes a 6.6 Mile roundtrip snowshoe hike with California’s Department of Water Resources to find out.

Drought Remains ‘Very Serious’ In California

The U.S. Drought Monitor says exceptional drought was reduced in one area of the northern Sierra this week, “despite heavy precipitation and rebounding stream flows in the short term the past few weeks.”

“It was decided to hold off on making substantial changes to the depiction in the far West until next week,” according to the weekly report. “This is because it takes time to assess the impacts all this moisture will have on long-term deficits and other hydrological considerations. The only change made this week was in the northern Sierra of California (El Dorado County), where the coverage of exceptional drought was reduced.”

OPINION: To Make the Most of Rain, State Needs Delta Tunnels

This week I testified at a legislative hearing on implementing the $7.5 billion water bond passed by voters in November 2014. One legislator asked me if the state was positioned to capture extra rainwater if El Niño brings a strong rainy season.

I pointed out that many California reservoirs are empty enough to capture much of the runoff from this year’s rainstorms, but that isn’t the full story.

Getting the Most Benefit from Deep Root Irrigation

Even in the midst of the recent El Niño storm systems, environmentalists and vineyardists are still concerned with the impacts of four years of continued drought on crops.

Yet a recent analysis of the effectiveness of water penetration — using soil moisture-monitoring instrumentation — has shown that using a deep root irrigation system can save as much as 50 percent of water usage, according to a recent report by Angwin company Deep Root Irrigation.

State Has ‘Big Awakening’ On Salton Sea Concerns

Planners working on the preservation of the Salton Sea envision a smaller version surviving indefinitely, with some of the costs for its maintenance recovered by economic development which may include geothermal, the harvest of algae, or something else, officials said during a conference at the UC Riverside.

“It’s not popular with residents in the area (of the Salton Sea), but it won’t be brought back to the way it was in the 1950s, 1960s and even the 1970s,” said Bruce Wilcox, who Gov. Jerry Brown appointed in May as secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Department of Natural Resources.

New Water Deal Cuts Imports for Laguna Beach County Water District

For the first time in 68 years, the Laguna Beach County Water District will no longer be 100% reliant on imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California.

An agreement with the Orange County Water District ensures that more than half of Laguna’s water supply will come from groundwater in the Santa Ana River Basin, according to a news release issued Wednesday.