Any Hope for the Drought?


You hear it in the news all the time. “Please refrain from watering your garden,” or “Shortening your shower by just a few minutes can save you gallons of water.”

The drought has been all over the news for the past year, and even though people have been trying to conserve water, the message hasn’t spread as much as we would like it to. But with California almost running out of water, El Niño might be the answer to our prayers.   

El Niño is a natural phenomenon that occurs every two to seven years in which the winds shift, making the oceans’ waters rise in temperature. Because the ocean is now a few degrees warmer, it alters rain patterns, which might cause mild droughts in places like Indonesia or Australia, but give California some much needed rain.

Even though Californians are doing an incredible job of conserving water, we can’t become relaxed just in anticipation of El Nino. California still needs to be conserving water because there are a lot of variables that remain unaccounted for.

According to the NOAA, even though scientists’ models and graphs show that there is a 90% chance of El Niño physically happening, there are many things that could go wrong.

First, it’s looking like big storms could develop, but completely miss Northern California, which, lets be honest, is what Pres girls really care about.

Second, the storms could be too warm to create that large Sierra snowpack, which is something that California depends on for water during the winter.

Third, there’s a ridiculous, high-density ridge off of the West Coast, which is what caused the legendary four-year drought in the first place. If the storm hits that ridge, then we might never get the rain that we need.

Lastly, there’s simply bad luck. El Nino might just not happen as strongly as we would like and not make a big difference in our situation.

Even with all the high tech gadgets and charts and graphs that scientists use, El Niño is a wild card, and no one can really predict what will happen. Kevin Werner, NOAA’s director of western region climate services, told the Mercury News, “The correlations between  precipitation and El Niño are far from perfect. There are examples from the past when El Niño events were drier than average.” He went on to explain how scientists have been wrong in the past, and it’s possible they might be wrong again.

Megan Twiddy, Presentation high school’s AP environmental science teacher said, “I think in anticipation of an El Nino year, people would start to become lax about their use of water or their saving water, and may begin to start using water that we don’t exactly have.” She continues on to say you should “plan for the worst, and hope for the best.”

There are a lot of variables with something like El Niño, and with the majority of the population pinning their hopes on this phenomenon, it could be catastrophic. In order for California to completely recover from the drought, the entire population needs to continue our conservation efforts.