Will El Niño be enough to break California’s drought?

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click image to zoomDrought Monitor, CaliforniaThe Drought Monitor map of California released on July 10, 2014. California is stuck in an oppressive drought. For nearly a year, drought conditions have domination the state’s landscape, resources and concerns. According to the latest Drought Monitor report, 79 percent of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought as of July 8.

The drought conditions have stretched the state’s water reservoirs thin, with more attention being pulled to solar desalination plants to provide much-needed water to the region. The state is even considering imposing fines of up to $500 a day for overwatering lawns or washing cars without nozzles on the hoses. 

Most of the regulations proposed are aimed at reducing outdoor water use in cities and towns, which the State Water Resources Control Board say accounts – in some areas – for more than half of residents’ daily water use.

“We are in a drought of historic proportions,” board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Many urban water users don’t realize how bad this drought is. They’re not seeing the communities that are actually running out of water. … They don’t see the streams and creeks running dry.”

Read, “California Considers Fines Up To $500 A Day For Overusing Water During Drought.”  

For months, all eyes have been to the developing El Niño for relief, but a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tells a different story. While NOAA believes El Niño will still develop and peak during late-fall or early-winter, federal forecasters believe it will be a weak-to-moderate event, not the “super El Niño” predicted earlier this year.

The San Francisco (Calif.) Gate reports that it’s this downgrade that leaves many to worry about the long-term outlook for California’s drought. Southern California may reap more of the moisture benefits than the northern half of the state.

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