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


California has 'a shot out of the drought' if El Niño rain persists

What happened to El Niño? Be patient, L.A., it'll come, expert says

Wildflowers already popping at Death Valley in what may be epic El Niño season