Dead and Dying Coast Redwoods Along Century Lake
Malibu Creek State Park
Downtown Los Angeles (USC) finished the 2015-16 rainfall year (July 1 to June 30) with 9.65 inches of recorded precipitation. This is about 65% of the 1981-2010 normal of 14.93 inches. This was the fifth consecutive year of below normal rainfall for Downtown Los Angeles, with a cumulative rainfall deficit of 35.86 inches --nearly three feet!
Observable impacts of the drought are widespread. Trees have been particularly hard hit. Dead trees can be seen along city streets, in parks, and throughout the open space areas and wildlands of Southern California. The dead and dying 100+ year old coast redwoods at Malibu Creek State Park are an example.
Most climate outlooks are forecasting La Nina conditions to develop over the Northern Hemisphere summer. Historically La Ninas have "on average" resulted in below normal precipitation in Southern California. But historical composites can be misleading. During the last five La Nina episodes (1999-00, 2000-01, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12) Downtown Los Angeles (USC) has averaged 14.39 inches of rain, which is 96% of normal.
Even during one of three strongest El Ninos on record, precipitation outlooks based on historical composites and analogs didn't perform well in Southern California. Given the somewhat more variable rainfall in Southern California during La Ninas, to determine the winter precipitation outlook you might as well flip a three-sided coin.
More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.