Environment & Science

Drought likely to get worse, NOAA predicts

Environmentalists decry harm to fish and fowl due to drought. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty)
Environmentalists decry harm to fish and fowl due to drought. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty)
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Federal meteorologists are out with their latest long range forecast for drought and precipitation in California, and it's not encouraging for the state's on-going water shortage.

As recently as December, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the entire state of California had at least a one in three chance of above average precipitation this winter.

Well, we still have one month of winter left, and NOAA is walking back that prediction. Between now and the end of May, it's down to a coin flip whether we'll even see average precipitation. And a chunk of Northern California is likely to only get below average rain and snow.

While the Golden State, particularly the North, has seen a few big storms this winter, they've mostly been warm rain, leaving the Sierra snow pack at 20 percent of average for this time of year. That's not good news for the drought. NOAA says statewide, the drought is not only supposed to linger but intensify through the end of May. Even the area around Eureka, which had seen strong rains push it out of the drought category, is expected to get sucked back in.

Still, a slice of San Bernardino County along the Arizona state line is expected to have no drought conditions at all -- not even abnormally dry. Of  course, that area of the high desert doesn't typically see a lot of rainfall to begin with.