Rainy seasons over the last two years were the driest in downtown Los Angeles since record-keeping began in 1877, and forecasters now say the El Niño that had been predicted to bring some relief may not materialize.
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By comparison, the 1897 to 1899 seasons saw 12.65 inches of rain, or about 17.21 inches below normal for the period, according to the National Weather Service.
"It's the worst drought we probably have seen in our lifetime," said Eric Boldt, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
In fact, four of the driest rainy seasons have occurred in the last seven years, said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
In June, nearly 80% of California was considered to be under "extreme" and "exceptional" drought conditions, the highest categories of dryness, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map.
California residents who were hoping for a break from the drought should instead brace themselves for dry conditions to continue throughout the summer and fall, he said.
It doesn't mean no rain will come, but when it does, it won't be at the level climatologists were expecting. Large El Niño events with massive amounts of rainfall, Patzert added, only happen once every 50 years.