Drought continues as rain falls in California

Posted at 1:34 PM, Apr 09, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) — April showers arrived in California as a series of low-pressure systems scoots through the state, but the rain totals won't do much to ease five years of drought, forecasters said.

Light rain began falling Friday and scattered showers should continue into Sunday, with a slight chance of thunderstorms.

By early Saturday, the National Weather Service issued flood advisories until noon in Central California as up to 2 inches of rain fell.

It was relatively dry in Northern and Southern California, with drizzle in the San Francisco Bay Area. No more than a quarter-inch of rain was expected to fall throughout the day.

Ernesto Munoz, 56, of Hollywood welcomed the chance of showers.

"It's a beautiful day, you know? We need the rain anyway," said Munoz as he walked his two Huskies, Whiskey and Brandy, on Sunset Boulevard. "I don't have any problem with that. I say, 'thank you, God' because we need rain."

Zoe McGeary, 35, of Oakland came south to run the Hollywood Half Marathon.

"It was raining when we left Oakland and it rained the whole drive down," she said.

"I love it. I'm excited about it," she said. "Every time it rains I'm like, 'Please: rain, and rain more.' The drought scares me."

Sports enthusiasts might be worrying, though. A wet Saturday could have implications for horses running in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia as well as the Formula DRIFT auto racing event on the streets of Long Beach.

The coast, deserts, valleys, foothills and mountains could see anywhere from a half-inch to 1 1/2 inches of rain as a Pacific weather system moves over southwestern California, according to the weather service.

The chance of thunderstorms in the mountains and deserts prompted the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management to issue lightning safety tips. They included a suggestion to unplug electronic equipment before a storm arrives and a warning that rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires don't provide protection.

Southern California could use any rain it gets. As of Friday, downtown Los Angeles had recorded less than half the normal 13.67 inches of rain that normally falls to date. San Diego has fared better, with a deficit of little more than 2 inches.

While the El Nino warming phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean brought rain and snow to California this winter, most of those storms hit northern areas including the Sierra Nevada while bypassing the southern half of the state.