Los Angeles sets mark for driest back-to-back seasons ever

The Los Angeles area is looking at its driest back-to-back years on record, according to the National Weather Service. Caltrans has been posting a drought advisory statewide on more than 700 freeway signs as a part of an educational campaign urging Californians to conserve water. (Photo by Rachel Luna/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Los Angeles area is looking at its driest back-to-back years on record, according to the National Weather Service. Caltrans has been posting a drought advisory statewide on more than 700 freeway signs as a part of an educational campaign urging Californians to conserve water. (Photo by Rachel Luna/Los Angeles Daily News)

Los Angeles got less rain in the last two years than it normally gets in one.

Now in the throes of a statewide drought, the L.A. area has broken a historic record for the lowest two consecutive years of rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.

The service’s rain season ends June 30. The combined rainfall for the last two seasons was just 11.93 inches — 6.08 inches this year and 5.85 inches last year — the lowest total ever recorded in back-to-back seasons in downtown L.A. The previous driest back-to-back rain record was in 1897-1899, with 12.65 inches. Los Angeles gets an average 14.93 inches of rain a year.

“What this means is for the last two seasons, we’re at just 40 percent of our normal rainfall,” said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist at the NWS in Oxnard. “This is a record — numero uno.”

But 2013-14 was not the single driest rain season L.A. has seen. That was in 2006-07 when there was just 3.21 inches of rain in downtown Los Angeles. But the two-year total historic low indicates the lengthened nature of the current drought.

Last month, the national Climate Prediction Center forecast a weak-to-moderate El Niño in the western Pacific Ocean.

“It looks like starting in October through February, our chances are better for above-normal rainfall,” Seto said. “But with a weak-to-moderate El Niño, there’s no guarantee.”

But Bill Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, has dismissed any forecast for extra rain in Los Angeles from the now-weakening warmer temperatures near the equator.

“I’m so desperate, that I’m hoping the El Niño has a resurgence in August,” Patzert said. “But as it stands, I’m fatigued from being the bearer of bad news: a fourth year of severe drought and little rain for Southern California this year.”

Reach the author at dana.bartholomew@dailynews.com, or follow Dana on Twitter: @DN_DanaBart.

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