Rain, snow mark return of El Nino to California
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A short-lived storm packing rain and high winds downed power lines, toppled trees and delayed flights across California, bringing back winter weather after several days of record-heat that had people wondering what happened to El Nino.
In the Sierra Nevada, the winter storm dropped 1 to 2 feet of light powdery snow late Wednesday, adding to a snowpack that could ease but not end drought conditions when it melts in the spring.
Residents in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area woke up Thursday to lightning after a night of howling wind and pounding rain.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service issued wind advisories and warnings for parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties as the storm system moved south.
Forecasters and water experts say it will take much more precipitation for the state to climb out of a drought that’s now entering its fifth year.
“Any rain is going to improve it but it’s not going to end it,” said Diana Henderson, a weather service forecaster. “We have gone so far into the hole that it will take many more seasons like this, or better, to bring us back to an even keel.”
This week’s storm bumped up snow and rainfall amounts, but water reservoirs remain below normal, said Doug Carlson, spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources.
Drought-weary residents pinned their hopes on a rainy El Nino season, which so far has brought welcome precipitation to the parched state. The season is not over.
The National Weather Service said snow would keep falling Thursday, perhaps adding another 10 inches at higher elevations.
Pacific Gas & Electric reported that about 7,200 households lacked power throughout the utility’s service area in central and northern California.
The San Francisco Bay Area received about a half inch of rain.
The fast-moving storm could dump up to three-quarters of an inch of rain across greater Los Angeles. Beachgoers were warned of waves topping 8 feet, dangerous rip currents and possible minor coastal flooding.
Warm weather and sunny skies could return by the weekend.