Mar 29, 2016

Unimpressive El Niño leaves California in water limbo

Crescent City, CA
Eureka, CA
San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Peter Fimrite and Kurtis Alexander
Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

The rain storms and blizzards that were supposed to come with El Niño were conspicuously non-biblical in California this winter, leaving the state in an ecological limbo that has regulators thinking about easing water-use restrictions in some places but not in others.

While the weather cheered ski resorts hit hard by the historic drought and brought some reservoirs to their highest points in years, in the end it dropped less snow than average in the Sierra, where more than a third of the state’s water comes from.

The water content of the snow statewide is 87 percent of average for this time of year, according to electronic measurements taken Tuesday, a benchmark when the spring melt historically begins and water spills into the reservoirs