Los Angeles

Los Angeles is hoping the coming rains expected from El Niño will help alleviate some of the damage of the drought. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

Rong-Gong Lin II and Shelby Grad
November 16, 2015

As experts continue to predict a wet winter because of El Niño, California officials continue to take a cautious approach when it comes to easing water conservation measures amid the state’s four-year drought.

Officials have long feared heavy rains would reduce conservation by residents, even though a major El Niño would not end the drought by a long shot.

Californians have taken up the call to reduce water use during the drought, including pulling out lawns and using more water-efficient appliances in their homes.

Officials want that “drought mentality” to continue as El Niño approaches.

Q: What’s the latest forecast?

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said El Niño is already strong and mature, and is forecast to continue gaining strength. This El Niño is expected to be among the three strongest on record since 1950.

“It’s official. El Niño’s here. It’s a done deal,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “So at this point, we’re just waiting for the impacts in California.”

Q: When will it hit?

Generally, El Niño doesn’t peak in California until January, February and March, Patzert said. That’s when Californians should expect “mudslides, heavy rainfall, one storm after another like a conveyor belt.”

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