El Niño: L.A.’s Biggest 1-Day Rainfall in 4 Years


Los Angeles saw 2.39 inches of rain on Tuesday, making it the wettest calendar day for the city in more than four years, according to the Associated Press.

Angelenos are often mocked for their supposed apocalyptic reactions to a bit of rain.

But area residents may have had reason to gripe Tuesday when a massive overnight rainstorm drenched L.A., causing flooding in some areas and traffic headaches in others.

Further to the northeast, Yucalpa Ridge in San Bernardino County saw an astounding 5.4 inches of rain.

Of course, the rain doesn’t even represent a proverbial drop in the bucket when it comes to relieving California’s four-year-long drought.

Experts have estimated that, over a six-month period, the state would need to see about 12 to 16 inches of rainfall in the Central Valley (where most large reservoirs are located) to be afforded any relief from the extended water shortage.

But the remarkable one-day rainfall total could be a harbinger of things to come in just a few months, when what could be a historic El Niño is expected to open up a particularly rainy fall and winter. Earlier this month, the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization predicted the El Niño currently forming in the Pacific Ocean could be the strongest event of its kind since 1950. That prediction joined the National Weather Service’s July forecast, which put chances of the coming El Niño being the strongest in recorded history at greater than 60 percent.

If it does end up becoming the strongest El Niño of all time, then California may finally see some relief from the drought. But climatologists are currently studying what could be an even more significant weather phenomenon: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, which could sock California with up to a decade of wet, rainy winters.

For now, Angelenos will stick to complaining about 50-degree weather.