The extra precipitation won’t be distributed evenly, Allen said. Already-arid Southern California would see about 3 percent less rain, while the central and northern parts of the state will see 14 to 15 percent more.
The state sees the most precipitation in the winter months of December, January, and February, and it depends largely on mountain snowpack to supply fresh water for the rest of the year. The extra precipitation Allen’s study foresees would fall largely during the same period.
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This year’s wet, stormy winter largely broke the back of the recent drought, which may have been California’s worst in centuries. Only a small portion of the state remains dry now. But in the long run, previous studies project that California will see less of a winter snowpack, while more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow means less may be captured in reservoirs for use in the summers.
Allen said the study didn’t examine how much of that additional precipitation would be retained in the mountains, and one study isn’t enough to make public policy decisions. He said he hopes to run a follow-up study with new climate models that are expected to come out next year, “to see if they continue to show the same response.”