The first snow of the 2016-17 winter season. Photo by Peter Szabadi

Despite the relatively normal fall rainfall, the National Weather Service’s latest long-range forecast is pessimistic regarding a wet winter and the end of the five-year drought, which is expected to enter its sixth year next spring. 

On Dec. 8, NWS issued its winter forecast that said, “Given the current conditions and the model forecasts, the forecaster consensus also favors the continuation of weak La Niña conditions through [December, January, February] ... 2016-17.”

La Niña conditions typically bring below-average rainfall and warmer temperatures to Southern California. It is possible that more neutral conditions will form later in winter, NWS added.

However, the interagency, the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center’s Predictive Services Unit’s forecast is less optimistic: “The deficits in precipitation may be most acute during January and February which is ordinarily the wettest part of the year. Should this come to fruition, this would mark the 6th season in a row of below normal precipitation during the height of the ‘rainy season.’” 


  1. ” The ongoing drought “. Declining precipitation, lower ground water levels. More water meters. Higher costs for groundwater pumping. Rates : where will they go ? How much will you pay for water ? Alternatives do exist.