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El Niño 2016: Time's Running Out to Save California From Extreme Drought

The weather system is winding down and large parts of the state are still parched

Northern California's Sierra Nevada mountains are having a pretty good snow year, but the monster El Niño we're in right now hasn't been able to fully quench the state's drought. Currently, about 38 percent of the state is considered to be in "exceptional drought" — the worst possible designation. While that's less area than was under exceptional drought three months ago (and barely below the mark a year ago), California is still a long way from being flush with water.

That's especially true in Southern California, which was supposed to be the greatest beneficiary of a strong El Niño. Turns out, not all El Niños are the same for ski country's purposes. The concentration of warm water in the Pacific that defines the weather pattern isn't in the same area as it was in previous boomer snow years for Southern California. It also doesn't help that there's a high-pressure system currently blocking snow from reaching the region.

There's still time left this winter for more El Niño snow, but probably not enough to put a serious dent in California's problem.