At Least 10 Inches of Rain Needed to Break Drought, But That's Unlikely

To break California's drought, the state would need a "March miracle" of at least 10 inches of rain, a National Weather Service official said today.

"We're at a point where our deficit is so great even to get back up to normal for this one year we're saying is a one in a thousand chance to get that much rain," said John Dumas, NOAA National Weather Service Science and Operations Office.

It would take an atmospheric river coming into California to bring a large amount of precipitation quickly, which also brings the risk of flooding, Dumas said.

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Dumas spoke with Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier during a live webcast this morning at the Aquarium of the Pacific, where they provided insight into why this drought is occurring, strategies to save water, and how NOAA is able to track and predict these extreme weather phenomena.

Wattier said California should be able to shoulder a three- to four-year drought, but may be in trouble if it lingers longer.

"We think it is time now to step up and preserve that water for the future," Wattier said.

He said Californians should not be too worried, but should instead think about ideas of how to save water.

"It's all those little things adding up, but irrigation is the biggest thing," Wattier said.

As part of the presentation, NOAA data was projected on a high-tech projection sphere to illustrate and analyze the impact of the drought.

The six-foot sphere can show near-real time data fed from NOAA's satellites and other monitoring systems, including weather predictions, actual storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, sea surface temperature, and more, according to the NWS.

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