Storms trigger flooding in drought-hit California

El Nino enhances winter rains to bring much-needed downpours to the US state.

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    Rain is desperately needed in California which is in the grip of its worst drought in more than a century [EPA]
    Rain is desperately needed in California which is in the grip of its worst drought in more than a century [EPA]

    One of the most powerful El Ninos on record has brought torrential rain to California.

    The heavy rain triggered a number of floods and mudflows across the western US state, forcing the closure of a several roads. Dangerous waves sparked the risk of flooding along the coastline.

    Although the storms brought disruption, the rain was desperately needed in the state, which is in the grip of its worst drought in more than a century.

    Much of the rain that fell was absorbed by the soil, but some was able to add to the water levels of the reservoirs. Heavy snow in the mountains was also welcomed, as much of California's water supply comes from snow melt.

    Los Angeles reported 36mm of rain on Tuesday, which is almost half the average for the entire month of January. Although the precipitation was significant, there is still a long way to go before the drought is alleviated.

    The city has only reported average rainfall since the beginning of October 2015. Climate experts say that twice the annual rainfall is needed across the state before the drought is fully eased.

    Recent storms have been enhanced by El Nino, the significant warming of the surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean.

    The current El Nino is one of the strongest on record and has already had a major impact on the weather in other parts of the globe, including flooding in South Americadrought in South Africa, and drought in Southeast Asia that resulted in the worst haze on record.

    More rain is expected in California over the next few days before it is expected to ease on Friday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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