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California continues to get walloped by storms. When might it end?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Another major storm has many in waterlogged, weary California asking, when will this weather end? The state has been walloped by an endless run of storms this winter and spring. NPR's Nathan Rott reports on what's ahead.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Let's not bury the lede. Here's weather wizard Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

DANIEL SWAIN: It's been a hell of a year in California weather, and it isn't over yet. There's still more to come.

ROTT: After years of drought drained reservoirs, and in some cases mandated water cutbacks, California is now awash in snow and rain, like this deluge from just last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF HEAVY RAIN FALLING)

ROTT: In the state Central Valley, one of the largest agricultural areas in the country, a long-drained lake has come back to life, flooding towns and farms. Two tornadoes recently touched down in Southern California. And in the Sierra Nevada mountains, particularly in the southern part of the range, a historic snowpack has officials worried about snowmelt and more flooding to come.

SWAIN: And again, we're still accumulating more snow than we're melting. So the amount of water that's stored up there to melt later is ever-increasing.

ROTT: Earlier this week, California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state's congressional delegation urged the Biden administration to grant the state a major disaster declaration for the flooding. Scores of communities have already been impacted by this year's storms. And in some areas, especially around the San Joaquin River, flooding is expected to continue for months, even though California's rainy season typically tapers off in April. Julie Kalansky, a deputy director with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says what the state is experiencing is something called weather whiplash.

JULIE KALANSKY: Going back-and-forth between extreme dry and extremely wet.

ROTT: A phenomena that's not new to the state.

KALANSKY: California, of anywhere in the U.S., has the most variable year to year. And that high variability is only projected to become more variable in the future with climate change.

ROTT: Scientists have linked the long-term megadrought in the West to human-caused climate change. And we do know that climate change means more intense storms. But it's too soon to say what role it's played in this year's deluges. Regardless, Kalansky says, it's clear that these types of massive swings and precipitation are going to continue, making it all the more important, she says, for officials and residents in the state to prepare. Nathan Rott, NPR News, Ventura, Calif. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.
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