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Can El Niño save drought-battered California? Here's why it's not that simple

After a string of dry winters, Northern California is experiencing a very wet one, and that might help ease the drought.

As of Wednesday, the northern Sierra Nevada had received 114% of the average rainfall typical during strong El Niño years, while the central Sierra Nevada in the San Joaquin Basin was doing even better, having received 122% of average rainfall typical during big El Niño years.

Many of the state’s major reservoirs are below historical averages -- Lake Shasta is at 40% when the average is 60%, while Lake Oroville is at 34% when the average is 54%.

But don't start replanting your front lawn just yet. “We have such a huge deficit, it’s a very large number we have to recoup,” said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist in Sacramento. Here are some maps, charts and images that help show where California is headed with the rains and where it still needs to go.

FULL COVERAGE: El Niño in California

More rain and snow coming

A winter of storms brings significant rain totals


Helping California's snow pack


Filling reservoirs hit hard by drought

But they still have a long way to go



And the drought persists



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