A swirling Eastern Pacific Ocean storm system headed for California is seen in an image from NOAA's GOES-West satellite taken at 0930 EST (1430 GMT) on 28 February 2014. According to the National Weather Service, this storm system has the potential to bring heavy rainfall to the drought-stricken state. Photo: NASA / NOAA / REUTERS

By Colin Atagi and Ian James
1 March 2014

(The Desert Sun) – A storm swirling in from the Pacific Ocean unleashed heavy rains across much of California on Friday, bringing the state a needed soaking but not nearly enough to significantly ease the drought.

Snow blanketed peaks in the Sierra Nevada, while in parts of Southern California the downpours prompted warnings of flash floods and mudslides.

The storm brought gusty winds and the heaviest rains in months to the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountains. Cities including San Francisco and San Jose all received more than an inch of rain, while about 2 inches fell in downtown Los Angeles.

“This storm is definitely going to be a nice big addition, but it’s not going to bring us up to normal where we need to be,” said Michelle Mead, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “It’s not going to be a drought-breaker.”

An index of weather stations in the northern Sierra shows an average of about 15 inches of precipitation since Oct. 1, while the norm is about 50 inches. In the southern Sierra, other weather stations show an average of about 10 inches of precipitation during that period, while the average is nearly 41 inches.

Across the state, water levels in most major reservoirs remain far below normal.

A map of California is colored mostly red on the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor website, which classifies more than 90 percent of the state as being in a severe drought, including 26 percent in “exceptional” drought.

"The chances of getting back to average are vanishingly small because we’re simply too deep in the hole," Jeanine Jones, deputy drought manager for the California Department of Water Resources, told The Desert Sun in a telephone interview. [more]

Storm soaks California, but far from a drought-breaker



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