La Niña: What it means for California’s drought and the upcoming winter rainy season

Oct 3, 2022 at 4:00pm


The day before the state’s “water year” ended, Silicon Valley leaders gathered on Google’s campus in Mountain View and urged residents to continue conserving water as California’s drought drags on.

“It’s the third straight year of a bad and worsening drought,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, on Thursday. “Our scientists and climatologists predict that as we move into the winter, we can expect another, fourth dry year.”

Not exactly, say experts.

“Those are the kinds of statements that make me grind my teeth,” said meteorologist Jan Null, a former lead forecaster with the National Weather Service.

First, nobody can predict the weather with any accuracy beyond 10 days, Null notes. Second, although there are La Niña conditions now — where surface waters in the Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal along the equator — the commonly held belief that La Niña automatically means dry winters for California isn’t supported by the historical record.

Since 1950, there have been 24 winters with La Niña conditions, according to Null’s detailed studies.

Read more here