Southern California has been emerging from its most recent drought cycle thanks to one of the wettest winters the long-parched southern half of the Golden State has experienced in years — 18 trillion gallons of rain have fallen in February alone.
The rest of the state is doing pretty well, too. No area "is considered to be in extreme or exceptional drought," the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
But don't expect these storms to come to the rescue when — not if — more intense droughts return to the region. All that rain water? Climatologist Bill Patzert estimates that 80 percent of it winds up in the Pacific Ocean.
"When you look at the Los Angeles River being between 50% and 70% full during a storm, you realize that more water is running down the river into the ocean than what Los Angeles would use in close to a year," said Mark Gold, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at University of California, Los Angeles.
There are other reasons run-off evades capture in the region — for example, it's been so arid the last few years that the rainwater falls victim to exceptionally thirsty roots and soil before it can even get to any basins. That means less water for household use even as storms bring record rainfall. "What a waste of water supply," said Gold.
There have been increased efforts to retain more rainwater, which have proved to be more successful this year, and a new property tax passed last year will create funding necessary for better capturing practices. Read more at the Los Angeles Times.Tim O'Donnell