Is water rationing on the horizon for California?

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The long anticipated El Nino has finally arrived in California, but experts aren't banking on the weather pattern to carry us out of this drought.

Think of El Nino and images of thunderstorms and rain may come to mind. El Nino is a warming of parts of the Central Pacific, which changes weather patterns worldwide. Some places see flooding, but scientists don't expect a lot of that wet weather in California.

"This is no El Nino," said Bill Patzert, a researcher at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "This is somewhere between 'El Wimpo' and 'El No Show.' This is definitely a minor signal in the Pacific."

Patzert says this system is a weak and late version of El Nino, and the lack of snow in the Sierra means things aren't looking good for the entire state.

"The snowpack is less than 20 percent. We're on our knees with this drought. Very soon as we get into the spring and the summer, we're definitely going to be talking about rationing water," said Patzert.

At this point, farmers are also pessimistic a weak El Nino system will help in the long term -- especially after back-to-back years of historically dry weather.

"Absolutely no amount could be received in the next two months that would get us out of the crisis we are currently in. But again, that is not to understate the fact that any kind of precipitation we do get at this point is definitely going to assist us as we get through this upcoming year," Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen said.

Over the phone, Jacobsen told us to expect a massive trickle-down effect, where hundreds of thousands of acres of fields will go unplanted, and many will lose their jobs.

Jacobsen says because this El Nino is expected to be a weak system, he's anticipating seeing many more farmers in our area pulling out 20- to 30-year-old citrus trees because paying to water them is just too expensive.

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