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Storm Not Enough To Make A Dent In California's Drought, Expert Says

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A meteorologist with the National Weather Service says that while the storm which pummeled California Sunday and Monday was beneficial, it did not do nearly enough to alleviate the state's drought situation.

"Bomb Cyclone" Brings Heavy Precipitation To Northwest United States
SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 24: The swollen San Anselmo creek touches the bottom of businesses on October 24, 2021 in San Anselmo, California. A Category 5 atmospheric river is bringing heavy precipitation, high winds and power outages to the San Francisco Bay Area. The storm is expected to bring anywhere between 2 to 5 inches of rain to many parts of the area. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Bay Area on Sunday had its wettest October day ever, recording four inches of rain in San Francisco and nearly five inches in Santa Rosa. Several cities across Central and Southern California also broke records Monday.

However, NWS Meteorologist Mark Jackson told KCAL9 Tuesday that the state will need multiple storms like this one to pull out of the drought.

"It was a tremendous storm, especially for October," Jackson said. "We get precipitation in October across the state at times, but not typically this heavy and this fast. So it does make a difference, it's not all of the difference. Keep in mind that in order to get out of a drought you need to have multiple storms like this that add up to a wet season. And with a wet season, then you can start putting a dent into this drought."

Southern California gets a large portion of its water supply from the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which comes out of the Sierra Nevada, and the California Aqueduct, which brings water from the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, both of which benefited from the storm.

"Both of those water sources did very well with this storm, and including tremendous snow up in the Sierra," Jackson said. "Snow is always the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to water. So between those sources, and also any sort of replenishment of ground water in Southern California, it can help, but it certainly not everything that we really need to get out of the drought."

Jackson indicated California's drought situation is so dire that it could take two full wet winter seasons to come out of it.

"We're in such a serious drought," Jackson said. "When you consider that almost over half the state of California is in what is considered an exceptional drought. And we don't recover from that really overnight. So when you look at the winter, we need a wet winter, and we need another wet winter after that. But certainly, if we had an above-average precipitation season it would make a big difference."

Jackson also said the storm "may have paused" Southern California's wildfire season, but likely not for long. He said Southern California likely needs five to eight inches of rain to end the fire season.

"You have certain fuels and vegetation out there that got wet," Jackson said. "But over time, and especially as we're gonna get warmer this week, with warmer temperatures, those fuels and that vegetation starts to dry out again and now we're back to our high fire season status...What we need to kind of end the fire season, it goes back to these back-to-back systems. In Southern California, a good five to eight inches of rainfall can possibly end our fire season for awhile."

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