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California voters hopeful that El Niño will ease drought, poll finds

Clouds darken the sky in Santa Clarita this week. Many California voters think El Niño will help alleviate the drought, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Clouds darken the sky in Santa Clarita this week. Many California voters think El Niño will help alleviate the drought, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Amid forecasts of a possibly record-breaking El Niño, California voters are being careful not to get their hopes too high that it will finally wash away the state’s stubborn drought.

In a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, 36% said an El Niño would help a lot and 42% said it would help a little. An additional 7% said the weather phenomenon would make no difference to the state’s water shortage or even worsen it.

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Climate scientists have observed building El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean all summer. On Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said that computer models unanimously favor a strong El Niño. Other forecasters say the chances are good for above average precipitation this winter, welcome news after four withering years.

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But state officials, worried that Californians will pull back on water conservation, are stressing that El Niño is no guarantee of a drought-busting winter.

“The fact is that this coming winter could extend our record-dry weather or bring major storms, heavy precipitation and coastal storm surges or a combination of all,” state climatologist Michael Anderson said in a statement.

Twitter: @boxall

For additional poll coverage in the coming days, visit latimes.com/politics.

MORE ON EL NINO:

The great El Niño of 1997-98, and what it means for the winter to come

Latest forecast suggests ‘Godzilla El Niño’ may be coming to California

Another El Niño sign: Ocean temps hit highest level of the year


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