El Niño Gets an Ultimatum: Rain or Else

There's snow in the Sierra Nevada and even in local mountains. But the El Niño weather phenomenon isn't providing us with much-needed precipitation just yet. In fact, after some showers over the weekend, temperatures in the 80s were forecast for the Los Angeles Basin later this week.

Experts say that if El Niño brings rain, it likely will happen in January, February and March.

The office of Gov. Jerry Brown is preparing for the worst. And the worst is yet another year of record drought.

Brown is giving El Niño an ultimatum: Rain by January or Californians will face continued, historic water restrictions, which would remain in effect until Oct. 31.

Brown made the announcement over the weekend. 

"As California prepares for a fifth year of drought," his office said in a statement, "Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order that calls for additional actions to build on the state's ongoing response to record dry conditions and assist recovery efforts from this year's devastating wildfires."

The governor declared a "drought emergency" in January, but nearly a year later conditions remain the same. Water is scarce.

There is, of course, hope that the historically strong El Niño, which is warming the waters of the equatorial Pacific, will bring 1998-style storms to the state and replenish our water reserves.

But there's no guarantee.

"California is experiencing a range of extreme weather events," the governor's executive order on extending drought restrictions says. "The state must simultaneously prepare for a fifth year of drought and the possibility of major winter storms driven by the warming trend in the Pacific Ocean known as El Niño."

The governor's order allows the state to continue a mandatory 25 percent water-use reduction mandate throughout California. Without the order, the current restrictions would expire in February.

City of Los Angeles water users have been meeting the conservation mandate. But California is a big, thirsty place where crops that feed America use a vast majority of our water.

We need this El Niño to make it rain. Even the powerful office of the governor can't make Mother Nature bend to his will.


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