Is California’s Drought Over? La Niña Rains Bring Record-Breaking Totals

Los Angeles has recently experienced an exceptional amount of rainfall. The last two water years (October 1st to September 30th) have been the wettest back-to-back years since the late 1800s! This includes record-breaking storms bringing above-normal rainfall across several months.

  • Los Angeles is experiencing its wettest back-to-back water years since the late 1800s.
  • The 2022-2023 water year was the 7th wettest on record in Downtown Los Angeles.
  • Rainfall for this water year so far in Downtown Los Angeles stands at 21.39 inches, more than 8 inches above normal.
  • The total rainfall for the 2022-2023 water year was 31.07 inches.
  • The combined rainfall total for the last two water years is 52.46 inches.
  • This is the second greatest rainfall total for two consecutive water year

These intense storms are a welcome change after a prolonged period of drought. While it’s too early to say the drought is definitively over, reservoirs are replenishing and soil moisture is increasing across the region. Although the wettest back-to-back years ever recorded were in 1888-1889 and 1889-1890, the recent rainfall means Los Angeles is getting close to that historical record.

“In Downtown Los Angeles, the 2022-2023 water year was the 7th- wettest on record, including a number of major winter storms, the  8th-wettest January, the 7th wettest March, and the wettest August  on record fueled by the remnants of a rare tropical storm (Hilary).  The 2023-2024 water year continued to bring extreme weather to  southwestern California.”

“There were four major storm systems in the month of February 2024, including one that produced the 4th-wettest calendar day in any February with 4.10 inches of rain. March also brought above-normal rainfall to the region.   In Downtown Los Angeles, rainfall from this latest storm system totaled 2.10 inches. Of that total, 0.12 inches fell on the 29th  before midnight, with 1.73 inches on the 30th, and 0.25 inches on  the 31st. The rainfall of 1.73 inches on the 30th set a calendar day record, breaking the old record of 1.27 inches set in 1946. Rainfall for this water year so far in Downtown Los Angeles stands at 21.39 inches, more than 8 inches above the normal  rainfall to date, which is 13.00 inches. A water year begins on  October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year.  The rainfall total for the 2022-2023 water year, which began October 1st 2022 and ended September 30th 2023 was 31.07 inches, which was the 7th wettest. The rainfall total for the 2023-2024  water year is already at 21.39 inches so far, with 6 months  remaining. The combined total for the last two water years is  now 52.46 inches and counting. That is the second greatest rainfall total for two consecutive water years since records in Downtown Los Angeles began in 1877. It  is also the most rain in consecutive water years since the water  years of 1888-1889 and 1889-1890, over 130 years ago. During those  two water years, which were the wettest back-to-back ones ever,  Downtown Los Angeles received 54.10 inches.” -NWS Los Angeles

It’s important to note that California’s drought situation is complex. These heavy rains offer significant relief, but true recovery requires sustained water levels over time. Ongoing conservation efforts and water management strategies will remain vital for long-term water security.

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