The El Niño winter that forecasters said could drench the state with rain and snow veered north instead, striking mostly the Pacific Northwest. The amount of rain and snow that hit Northern California was a tick above average and looked impressive mostly because it contrasted sharply with the extreme drought of the previous four years. Southern California was wetter than in previous years, but not by much. Now, conditions are shifting, and El Niño’s counterpart, La Niña — a seasonal period marked by lower Pacific temperatures that shrivel rainfall in California — is expected to arrive around early fall and could prolong the dry times in California. “I would be concerned about the drought continuing,” said Dave Pierce, who does El Niño and La Niña forecasts at the Climate Research Division of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.