But it could also bring catastrophe. In 1998, the Times noted, the region saw so much rain so quickly that widespread flooding and mudslides killed 17 people and caused more than half a billion dollars in damage. Downtown Los Angeles got nearly a year's worth of rain in February alone.
Mike Halpert of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center warned that one season of above-normal rain and snow "is very unlikely to erase four years of drought," KTLA reported.
Read MoreThe California drought is even worse than you think
State climatologist Michael Anderson agreed, saying in a statement that California "cannot count on potential El Niño conditions to halt or reverse drought conditions." Historical weather data show that there's a 50% chance at best of California seeing a wetter winter. "Unfortunately, due to shifting climate patterns, we cannot even be that sure," he said.
El Niño, a climate pattern in the tropical Pacific, occurs roughly every two to seven years, according to NOAA. Climatologists are already blaming this year's system for droughts in parts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
A battle of nicknames may also be in this El Niño's future: It already has a matinee-idol nickname, thanks to a National Weather Service blogger, who has dubbed it "Bruce Lee."