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2004-05 Rainy Season Sets Records: biggest, baddest in more than 100 years

This year’s rainy season, as calculated from July 1, has totaled 34.36 inches so far, which is about four inches shy of the 38.18 inch record set in 1883-1884, and almost 20 inches more than the average yearly rainfall of 14.97 inches.  By March 1, we’ve usually had about 10 inches of rain already accumulated. The wettest 15-day period ever recorded in Downtown Los Angeles happened this season with 16.97 inches, from December 27, 2004 to January 10, 2005, beating out the previous 1887 record of 14.63 by over two inches.  Last year, Los Angeles received 9.25 inches of rain, almost six inches below average.  Los Angeles’ driest year on record, 2001 – 2002, showed a meager 4.35 inches of rain.  According to weather experts, this season’s exceptional wetness is due to a mild El Nino storm, similar to the El Nino that brought us 31.01 inches of rain in 1997-1998.  However, rather than following typical El Nino patterns and arriving directly from Hawaii, February’s massive storms began over the northern Pacific Ocean, and then remained off-shore, traveling southeast and gathering moisture, finally blowing onshore in Southern California.  This season’s torrential rains have caused extraordinary damage, triggering landslides, destroying homes, roads, and even the Santa Paula Airport, and are responsible for a handful of deaths.  Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn asked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for help in getting President Bush to declare a federal disaster in Los Angeles.  According to Hahn, rain damage to roads and facilities in Los Angeles County is around $50 million.For this week’s local weather report, see page 23.

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