It seems impossible, right? Droughts, by definition, mean you don’t have enough water. Floods are what happens when you have too much water. So having a drought and a flood simultaneously is nearly impossible… unless you live in California.
So let’s go over this: simultaneous flooding and drought? Check. Heatwave? Check. Massive wildfires? Check. Venemous snakes rising out of the sea? Check. Maybe God just hates California.
Actually, there’s a logical explanation for all of this (even the sea snakes.) One way to mitigate flooding is with vegetation. Root systems help keep water in wet areas, but when we lose forest land due to wildfires, or when trees just die due to lack of water, later rainfalls have disastrous results.
Additionally, the lack of rainfall can cause changes to the soil quality, making the ground harder and less porous. This makes water flow across the surface of the ground rather than seeping down to the groundwater table, and that, in turn, creates flash-flood conditions.
El Nino has the potential to be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, water-strapped California needs all the precipitation it can get, and rain sounds like an answer to our prayers. On the other, heavy rainfall over a short period of time doesn’t soak into the ground or solve California’s water woes: it just creates more destruction via flooding.
Worst of all, as the news becomes overrun with mudslides, floods, and heavy rain, people may reduce their conservation efforts, believing the drought is over. Experts agree that El Nino will probably not be enough to end the drought, meaning we’re still living in a time of conservation. That’s right: even as waves of water overrun our freeways, we should still time our showers and limit our flushes. And when you go to the beach, watch out for demon serpents!