California

Rainfall Totals: March Rain Not Enough to Pull From Drought, Expert Says

The storm provided much-needed moisture to a dry region, but not enough to pull Southern California from drought, UC Irvine professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Amir AghaKouchak said

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NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen explains how San Diego is still in a deficit despite significant March rain.

A spring storm passed through San Diego County quickly but left behind nearly two inches of rain in some areas by Tuesday morning, providing much-needed moisture to a region in drought.

Here's how much rain San Diego County received, according to estimates through 5:15 a.m. Tuesday from the National Weather Service:

COAST
San Ysidro: 1.53
Carlsbad: .95
Chula Vista: .80
Fashion Valley: .80
San Marcos: .76

INLAND
San Miguel: 1.94
Otay Mountain: 1.89
Alpine: 1.11
Valley Center: 1.02
Ramona: .84
Fallbrook: .76
El Cajon: .74

MOUNTAINS
Kale Cuyamaca: 2.65
Palomar Observatory: 1.86
Birch Hill: 1.47
Julian: 1.33
Mt. Laguna: .70

DESERTS
Agua Caliente: .21

UC Irvine professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Amir AghaKouchak said while the rainfall was significant, it is not likely enough to pull the region out of drought.

"We are towards the end of the rainy season. It is unlikely that we will see several [more] storms like this. So, most likely we will remain below average this year," AghaKouchak said. "The good news is that our reservoirs are not bad... It's better than last year, but we will remain under drought situation this year, at least that's how it looks like."

"Since we're toward the end of rainy season, it is unlikely that we'll receive several storms like this, so we'll most likely remain below average," Professor Aghakouchak told NBC 7's Kelvin Henry.

California's rainy season starts in October and is typically over by March.

San Diego County is in moderate drought status, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which means the lack of moisture can damage some crops; streams and reservoirs may be low; and water shortages are developing or imminent. It can also lead to more wildfires.

"From an ecosystem perspective, wildfires around us are increasing over the years and drought is a major contributor," AghaKouchak said. "With prolonged drought, chance of wildfires increase and with that, poor air quality, potential health impacts, even long-term chronic impacts."

Average rainfall through March is about 5.5 inches and Southern California has seen less than two, but AghaKouchak said the situation is better than it was six months to a year ago. Even still, he doesn't expect this week's storm to change the region's drought levels.

"In Southern California, we rely not only on our local water but also water that we bring from Northern California and Colorado River Basin," AghaKouchak said. "So, drought in our area is important but also in other areas that we bring water from also matters to us."