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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Downtown L.A.’s five-year rain total is lowest ever recorded.

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http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-dry-rain-season-future-20160706-snap-story.html

Los Angeles TimesJul 07

Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in its growing almanac of drought.

On Wednesday, experts at the National Weather Service confirmed that the last five years have been the driest ever documented in downtown L.A. since official record keeping began almost 140 years ago.

Downtown’s parched landscape mirrors the broader, historic drought that has wreaked havoc on California this decade. Forests and hillsides across the state are parched, brittle and burning.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters are battling wildfires that have scorched more than 50,000 acres since June.

But in Northern California, a series of winter storms, or “atmospheric rivers,” dumped feet of snow and inches of rain, replenishing reservoirs and building up the Sierra snowpack for a spring and summer melt.

California may come to depend more on those “atmospheric rivers” in the future for its water and downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding cities may continue to miss out on them, said Michael Anderson, a climatologist with the Department of Water Resources.

“The challenging part is how it translates into a representation of the future climate. Is that the future norm or the extreme? That’s really tricky to say,” Anderson said.

But until that’s answered, Angelenos can expect more rainless days thanks to a developing La Niña, which brings a drier-than-average winter.

“We’re still trying to figure out if this is a window into our future,” Anderson said.

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