A group of young people look out over the ocean at Windansea as rain falls in the distance. Photo by Chris Stone

Despite a storm heading for San Diego County this weekend and an “atmospheric river” due to hit the Central California coast the middle of next week, Southern California is still likely to remain parched this year.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has placed the odds of reaching an average amount of precipitation in Southern California this year at just 20%.

The region has received around 40% of precipitation of normal relative to this point in the water year — which begins in October and ends in September — and somewhere between 10% and 15% of its normal precipitation for the entire year.

Julie Kalansky, the operations manager at the university’s Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, told City News Service Friday the region’s precipitation is well-below normal and snow pack is “extremely low” for this time of year — in the lowest 10th percentile.

The region receives a significant amount of its rain and snowfall during a few big storms. The smaller storm which should hit the region Saturday could bring between a half-inch and 2 inches of rainfall.

There’s a possibility a much larger storm — known as an atmospheric river — next week could bring more, but it is still too soon to tell where the storm will hit. It could skip Southern California altogether, leaving the region’s water table even further behind schedule.

“If we do not get any precipitation between the two events, the one this weekend and the one next week, and it continues to remain dry, it could lead to an earlier start to the fire season this year,” Kalansky said.

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