Historic January Drought Intensifies in California

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:31 PM GMT on January 16, 2014

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Record warmth and dryness have hit California this month, as one of the worst drought in state history continues to intensify. San Francisco Airport observed its warmest January day on record on Wednesday: 73°. This beat the previous all-time January record of 72° set twice before (on January 13, 2009 and January 24, 1948). Oakland hit 77° on Wednesday, and Monterey topped out at a remarkable 83°--which would be a daily record on many summer days. The record January heat has been accompanied by record dryness. California recorded its driest year in its history during 2013. The most widely used measure of drought in the U.S., the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), shows that December 2013 drought conditions in California were the 2nd most intense for any December going back to 1895, with only December 1898 being worse. If we look at 3-month PDSI for the first three months of the water year, October - December, 2013 ranks as the third worst such drought, behind 1898 and 2008.


Figure 1. Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), shows that December 2013 drought conditions in California were the 2nd most intense for any December going back to 1895. Only December 1899 was worse. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

The forecast: no relief in sight
Less than an inch of precipitation has fallen over more than 95% of the state so far in January 2014, and the prospects for significant rain for the next ten days look bleak. A large and persistent ridge of high pressure has set up over the West Coast and shows no signs of budging. Since rain-bearing low pressure system tend to travel along the axis of the jet stream, these storms are being carried well to the north of California into Southeast Alaska, leaving California exceptionally dry. Today's U.S. Drought Monitor showed that the area of California experiencing extreme drought expanded from 28% to 63% over the past week, and I expect January 2014 drought conditions will challenge 1899 for the dubious honor of worst January drought in state history.


Figure 2. Color-coded wind speeds at a pressure of 300 mb (roughly 9,000 meters or 30,000 feet) from 00 UTC January 16, 2014, show the axis of the jet stream over North America, with a large upside-down "U"-shaped ridge of high pressure over the West Coast. California is outlined in orange. The strongest winds of the jet stream (orange colors, 160 mph) were observed over the Northeast United States. Image generated from the 00 UTC January 16, 2014 run of the GFS model, and plotted using our wundermap.

Top ten most severe winter drought months in California history, 1895 - 2013, along with the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) for the month:

1) Feb 1899, -6.28
2) Feb 1991, -6.21
3) Jan 1991, -5.74
4) Jan 1899, -5.67
5) Feb 1977, -5.62
6) Dec 1898, -6.28
7) Jan 2009, -5.26
8) Jan 1977, -4.82
9) Dec 2013, -4.67
10) Feb 2009, -4.49

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has much more detail on this historic drought in his latest post, Central California Enters a Drought Period Unprecedented in its Weather History.

Jeff Masters

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591. VR46L
2:57 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 590. hydrus:
Some records will fall..Again. I said yesterday morning that the pattern is loading for damaging winter storms. If the NAO were negative, we would have had at least one moderate snow storm for the east coast already. This little dip may make a big difference.




Yes I saw you said that yesterday.... but the lack of precipitation will hinder any development

Nothing to speak of coming,

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
590. hydrus
2:51 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 579. VR46L:


Its not a good pattern setting up

CIRA Total Precipitable Water
Jan. 17, 2014 - 10:14 UTC

Some records will fall..Again. I said yesterday morning that the pattern is loading for damaging winter storms. If the NAO were negative, we would have had at least one moderate snow storm for the east coast already. This little dip may make a big difference.


Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22728
589. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
2:01 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
588. Torito
1:50 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
IMAGE OF THE DAY:


A piece of history frozen in time beneath the waves has been documented in amazing photographs.

The SS Thistlegorm shipwreck, a British munitions ship sunk by a German bomber in 1941 off the coast of Egypt, lays undisturbed.

Now turned into a world-class diving site, the wreckage provides a fascinating insight into the past.




An old truck destined for use during WW2 at the SS Thistlegorm shipwreck, a British munitions ship sunk by a German bomber in 1941 off the coast of Egypt.

More photos.


Note... I like that name for a ship.. Too bad it sunk. :/
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
587. SFLWeatherman
1:50 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
vw passat GLX
Quoting 586. robintampabay:



Looks like a Volkswagon CC
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
586. robintampabay
1:48 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 585. SFLWeatherman:
1/17/14 From Loxahatchee, Florida



Looks like a Volkswagon CC
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 174
585. SFLWeatherman
1:43 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
1/17/14 From Loxahatchee, Florida
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
584. Torito
1:32 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
94S



Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
583. Torito
1:30 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 578. pcola57:
Good Morning All..
Here's a little webcam peek of the beach this am..




Those clouds are particularly stunning!
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
582. Torito
1:30 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Cyclone June.



Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
581. Torito
1:21 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
ATL Swirly almost dead.

Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
580. SFLWeatherman
1:16 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
1/17/14 Cold morning for me!! got down to 34!

my car was covered in ice!!
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
579. VR46L
1:08 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 577. hydrus:
Shows even better here.


Its not a good pattern setting up

CIRA Total Precipitable Water
Jan. 17, 2014 - 10:14 UTC

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
578. pcola57
1:05 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Good Morning All..
Here's a little webcam peek of the beach this am..


Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6917
577. hydrus
12:38 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 574. VR46L:
The WV loop below shows the shield that has established itself over CA ...

Shows even better here.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22728
576. hydrus
12:34 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 574. VR46L:
The WV loop below shows the shield that has established itself over CA ...

Good morning VR. There has been strong low pressure areas moving into the Gulf of Alaska, this will usually cause a compensatory high pressure system somewhere to the East. There are a few signs that it may weaken a bit in 3 weeks. This is the set up now..


set up at 120 hours.

228 hours.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22728
575. ZacWeatherKidUK
12:34 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
Afternoon everyone, I got out of school early for once!
Quite a nice day today.
Member Since: December 27, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 222
574. VR46L
12:05 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
The WV loop below shows the shield that has established itself over CA ...

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
573. VR46L
12:03 PM GMT on January 17, 2014
LOL !! @ 571


Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
571. Sfloridacat5
11:27 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Local news just showed
GLOBAL WARMING scrapped in the frost on a car windshield in North Ft. Myers.

It always seems to go in that direction. But frost is being reported all over the area.

Record low is 36 - we won't official come close to that at Page Field - closer to the river. Probably get down to 38-39 there.
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 9397
570. Sfloridacat5
11:23 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Fort Myers here. 38 degrees on my station. Lowest temp in the area is currently 34 degrees in Lehigh. a few miles east of Ft. Myers.
33 degree further inland way outside the city.
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 9397
569. aislinnpaps
11:19 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Good morning, afternoon and evening, everyone. It's a warmer 46 degrees with a high of 56 expected again. I LOVE Fridays of a three day weekend.

Saturday: Breakfast's on the sideboard: steak, eggs and hash browns, Belgian waffles with strawberries or powdered sugar, croissants, creamy oatmeal with blueberries, egg and sausage casserole, cinnamon streusel coffee cake, cheesy grits and shrimp, cheese Danishes, yogurt, fresh fruit and orange, apple or pineapple juice. Regular and decaf coffee with flavored creamers to the side. Enjoy!
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3167
568. BahaHurican
11:08 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Good morning, and TGIF to all.

Still 64 here, according to the airport. Seems we had some cloud cover roll through that kept the lid on the temps. Still, that's chilly enough for sweater, so I am satisfied.

Have a great day!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22736
567. PensacolaDoug
10:53 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
It warmed up overnight here.
39F at 8:30PM, 50F now.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 670
566. LargoFl
9:33 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
another cold front tomorrow for us................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42277
565. LargoFl
9:30 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Good Morning!..43 here,no frost or freeze here....
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42277
564. VR46L
9:19 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
New Caladonian Radars
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
563. StormTrackerScott
8:50 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Almost 4am and its just 39 outside. Looks like no freeze here tonight. Infact all areas around Orlando are near 40 at the moment. Looks frosty though.

Link
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 9 Comments: 4774
562. VR46L
8:45 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
BTW Good Morning
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
561. VR46L
8:44 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
560. VR46L
8:44 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
June Visual

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
559. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:41 AM GMT on January 17, 2014


what a pest of a system.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
558. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:31 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #1
TROPICAL DEPRESSION AGATON
10:30 AM PhST January 17 2014
================================================= ====

The Low Pressure Area southeast of Guiuan, eastern Samar has developed into a Tropical Depression and was named "AGATON"

At 10:00 AM PhST, Tropical Depression Agaton (1000 hPa) located at 9.2N 127.2E or 260 km southeast of Guiuan, eastern Samar has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving southwest at 2 knots.

Signal Warnings
=====================

Signal Warning #1

Mindanao region
------------------
1. Surigao del Norte
2. Siargao Is.
3. Surigao del Sur
4. Dinagat Province
5. Agusan del Norte
6. Agusan del Sur
7. Davao Oriental
8. Compostella Valley

Additional Information
============================
Estimated rainfall amount is from 5-15 mm per hour (moderate to heavy) within the 300 km diameter of the tropical depression.

Tropical Depression "AGATON" will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over Eastern and Central Visayas.

Sea travel is risky over the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Caraga Region.

The public and the disaster risk reduction and management councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5pm today.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
557. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:10 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #4
TEMPETE TROPICALE MODEREE DELIWE (07-20132014)
10:00 AM RET January 17 2014
======================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Moderate Tropical Storm Deliwe (992 hPa) located at 23.4S 42.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving south southwest at 12 knots.

Gale Force Winds
===============
30 NM radius from the center

Near Gale Force Winds
======================
50 NM radius from the center, extending up to 60 NM in the northwestern quadrant, up to 70 NM in the southeastern quadrant and up to 100 NM in the southwestern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T3.5/3.5/D0.5/6 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS 25.0S 40.5E - 45 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modérée)
24 HRS 24.8S 38.6E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
48 HRS 24.0S 38.7E - Depression se Comblant
72 HRS 24.9S 37.5E - Depression se Comblant

Additional Information
========================

The microwave image GCOM at 2213z shows a embryo of eye, with a weakness of the deep convection close to the core of the system in the northeastern part affected by the shore at this time. Deliwe has gone away from the western coast of Madagascar at the end of the night. The current intensity is in good agreement with last ASCAT data of 0601z.

The available numerical guidance are in good agreement on the south southwestwards track forecast for the next 12 hours, under the steering influence of the highs in the east. Then during the night from Friday to Saturday, the track will recurve westwards as another subtropical highs will stall over southern Africa. From Saturday morning, there is poor agreement among guidance and there is lower confidence in the track forecast. The current track is close to the last outcomes of ECMWF (1800z and 0000z), but some numerical weather prediction guidance forecast a north northwestward track from Saturday morning.

Upper level environmental conditions appear neutral to favorable for further slight intensification within the next 12 hours. The northerly constraint will be partly offset by the fast south southwestward movement of the system, which take advantage of good upper divergence poleward. According to the current rate of deepening, it is possible that Deliwe will reach the stage of severe tropical storm in the very next hours. According to the forecast track from Saturday morning, the northerly constraint should increase and become a unfavorable. The system is also expected to weaken rapidly.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
556. KoritheMan
6:56 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 500. Dakster:


Bad Scott. That is taboo.. No calling for 2004 analogous seasons...

I can't handle another El Pendejo year of storms.


I'll take a 2008. That way Florida gets spared and Louisiana gets all kinds of hurricanes and close calls that I can go to the coast and chase.

Sound good? 'Tis what I thought. ;)
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21333
555. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
6:16 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
96P.INVEST is now named June by RSMC Nadi

Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory #4
TROPICAL CYCLONE JUNE, CATEGORY ONE (08F)
16:00 PM FST January 17 2014
=====================================

At 4:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone June (995 hPa) located at 17.2S 162.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots. Position poor based on multispectral infrared and visible imagery with peripheral surface reports. The cyclone is reported as moving south southeast at 20 knots.

Gale Force Winds
==================
100 NM in northeast quadrant
60 NM in southeast quadrant
100 NM in southwest quadrant
60 NM in northwest quadrant

Overall organization has significantly improved in the past 24 hours. Deep convection around the low level circulation center remains persistent and its area has increased in the past 6 hours. System lies in a moderate sheared environment south of an upper ridge. Outflow restricted to the west but good elsewhere. Sea surface temperature is around 29C. System is being steered to the south southeast by a northwest-southeast oriented ridge to the north of the system.

Dvorak analysis based on 0.6 wrap yielding DT=3.0, MET=2.5, and PT=3.0. Final Dvorak intensity based on DT.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0/3.0/D2.0/24 HRS

Global models agree on a southeastward movement with little intensification.

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS 19.5S 163.2E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
24 HRS 22.0S 164.1E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
48 HRS 27.6S 165.5E - 40 knots (CAT 1)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
554. nwobilderburg
6:03 AM GMT on January 17, 2014


And of Course the only rain California is supposed to get is at 372 hours
Member Since: October 6, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 832
553. BaltimoreBrian
6:00 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
HadesGodWyvern, the definitions of heat wave and other hot weather phenomena from the India Meteorological Department is on pages 10-11 of their Glossary Page.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8918
552. opal92nwf
5:50 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 500. Dakster:


Bad Scott. That is taboo.. No calling for 2004 analogous seasons...

I can't handle another El Pendejo year of storms.

Maybe not 2004, but FL is gonna get one soon.
Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 14 Comments: 2898
551. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
5:50 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
just makes me wonder if India has a heatwave definition as well

40-45C is not uncommon over there.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
550. BaltimoreBrian
5:46 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Says this in the header:

For the first time, the Bureau of Meteorology has provided a national definition of a heatwave.


It's time for bed, I'll look through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology site tomorrow. Maybe.

It's just strange to me, as if Canada didn't have a definition for a cold wave. Maybe they don't!
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8918
549. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
5:44 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 536. hydrus:
the cold is of the chart..
very strong
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
548. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
5:42 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
might be a revised definition as they mentioned a new "Pilot Heatwave Forecast" product.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
547. hydrus
5:39 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
A blessed night to all..zzz
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22728
546. BaltimoreBrian
5:38 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 544. HadesGodWyvern:


article was released Tuesday (their time).


I saw that. I'm just surprised they didn't have a heat wave definition until January 14, 2014. Australia is no stranger to heat waves. I would have thought they had a definition for a heat wave decades ago.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8918
545. hydrus
5:36 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 542. Jedkins01:



That is certainly possible as well, it weakened a lot faster more than most hurricanes have that crossed south Florida, it also sounds like it didn't weaken very quickly after its second landfall, which may hint at hybridization and lessening tropical characteristics.
Storms are weird...and I have seen them all over. Great Lakes, North Atlantic, Gulf. Even the Gulf of St.Lawrence.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22728
544. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
5:34 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 541. BaltimoreBrian:
Bureau of Meteorology reveals first national heatwave definition

Seems a little late.


article was released Tuesday (their time).
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 47099
543. hydrus
5:34 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 540. BaltimoreBrian:


Party like it's 1899!
Old Man Winter is gonna party too....Like its 1899..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22728
542. Jedkins01
5:34 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Quoting 509. hydrus:
Yep, and more than once I have seen a tropical cyclone approaching Florida transition into a extra-tropical cyclone just before landfall. Others I have seen were sub-tropical in nature.



That is certainly possible as well, it weakened a lot faster more than most hurricanes have that crossed south Florida, it also sounds like it didn't weaken very quickly after its second landfall, which may hint at hybridization and lessening tropical characteristics especially because its October.

Still a very odd storm regardless.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8029
541. BaltimoreBrian
5:31 AM GMT on January 17, 2014
Bureau of Meteorology reveals first national heatwave definition (Australia)

Seems a little late.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8918

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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