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More Water For California: New Enormous Water Works Programs Are Expensive

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 9:18 PM GMT on April 18, 2014

The end of the rainy season is nearly here, and California faces a long, dry summer with a Sierra snowpack that is only 33% of normal. There is no significant precipitation in the forecast for California through April 25, but the state still has another shot at a decent round of heavy precipitation the last few days of April, according the latest long-range forecasts from the GFS model. If this storm does materialize, March and April precipitation would be near average for California, helping offset the November - February period, which was the driest such 3-month period in California's recorded history. The winter rainy season of 2013 - 2014 is going to end up well below average for precipitation, though, and comes on the heels of two other poor rainy seasons, which leaves California in a dire drought situation. The April 15, 2014 Drought Monitor is showing that 99.8% of California is in drought, with 95% of the state in Severe, Extreme, or Exceptional drought.


Figure 1. Predicted precipitation for the 7-day period ending Friday, April 25, 2014. No significant rain capable of easing the drought is expected to fall in California in the coming week. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.


Figure 2. The latest NOAA seasonal drought forecast calls for drought to persist or intensify until the end of July across much of the Southwestern and Western U.S., including all of California and Nevada. Image credit: NOAA/CPC.

Ways to Ease California's Drought
There is only one major river in the Southwest, the Colorado River, and in most years the flow in the river is far less than the amount of water allocated to stockholders drawing water from the great river. Over 30 million people depend on the Colorado River for their water, including much of Southern California, and the river irrigates farmland that produces 15% of the nation's food. Two major studies, one by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 2012, and one by the non-profit Pacific Institute in 2013, laid out five major ways that the Colorado River basin can get more water. As I outlined in Part 1, 2, and 3 of this series over the past month, three ways to get more water for the thirsty Southwest are through:

1) Conservation measures
2) Cloud seeding
3) Desalinization plants

Another option is to build more enormous water works programs. California already has a number of massive multi-billion dollar water works programs that shuttle water from water-rich areas to water-poor areas. For example:

The $1.75 billion California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, which collect water from rivers in Northern California and redistribute it to Southern California through a network of aqueducts, pumping stations, and power plants.

The All-American Canal, which takes water from the Colorado River and supplies California's Imperial Valley. It is the Imperial Valley's only water source.

The Colorado River Aqueduct, completed in 1939, which takes water from the Colorado River on the California/Arizona border and pipes it 242 miles to the west into Southern California.


Figure 3. Landsat-8 image of the region just west of Yuma, Arizona, showing several of the major Colorado River canals that have been built to divert the river's water: the All-American Canal, which takes water from the Colorado River and supplies California's Imperial Valley, and the Central Feeder Canal, which supplies Mexico. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

However, there really isn't much excess water to be had in the Western U.S. anymore. So, another option might be to pipe water over the Rockies from the Missouri River watershed. A "Missouri River Reuse Project" has been proposed by officials in Colorado and in the U.S. Department of Reclamation. This 30-year, multi-billion dollar project would divert water from the Missouri River across Kansas to the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, where the water could then be pumped into the headwaters of the Colorado River. The cost of the water delivered would be similar to desalinization, about $2000 per acre-foot. This very high cost has made the project unattractive, and it has also met with opposition from environmental groups. "Huge pipelines aren't solutions to the fundamental problem that we are using more water than we can sustain. You can't build more water," said Drew Beckwith, a water policy manager for Western Resource Advocates, in a 2012 interview with the Denver Post. "We need to work together on conservation and reuse strategies that can have an immediate positive impact."

Other massive engineering projects, including building aqueducts to bring water from Washington's Snake and Columbia rivers, a tunnel under the Pacific Ocean to import water from Alaska, towing icebergs to California, or using water bags or tanker vessels to transport water, were deemed much too expensive to be considered practical in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study. Their cost was at least 50% more than using desalinized water.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

Drought

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

EL ninio?
1002. ncstorm


Mr. Flip Flopper
1004. ncstorm
06z GFS..starting at 240 hours







1005. Gearsts

Central islands (the rain magnets) are getting heavy rains... up to 4 inches past 12 hours... and forecast to continue.
1007. StormWx
After a bust event for the major rain in FL this past weekend it is drying out. So much for locally 6" of rain, not even close to 3", and certainly not 10" as scotty boy called for. Some crow for you scotty? hehe :o)



Quoting 1006. CaribBoy:


Central islands (the rain magnets) are getting heavy rains... up to 4 inches past 12 hours... and forecast to continue.


Well rain has been on and off yesterday in the southern islands here in grenada it is extremely hot at times and then rain falls out of no where sometimes very heavy and then sun continues but much like 2004 and 05 the fruits are struggling to bear after an early burst in the begining of the year.
Quoting 1001. caribbeantracker01:

EL ninio?




you may want too check this blog out if you come here more you find out all the info you need two no and whats been going on with EL nino

Link
Like a said if the GFS was a politician he would not get voted into office because of his flip flop record.
Quoting 1009. Tazmanian:




you may want too check this blog out if you come here more you find out all the info you need two no and whats been going on with EL nino

Link


yh Taz i kno i was just asking for a response to the updated maps but am untop of the situation lol
Good Morning.  Looking like a beautiful week on tap for Florida with pre-summer temps and clear skies.  I suspect that the beaches and waters will be packed this coming weekend after all the rain this past weekend/Easter and I am already planning for a Saturday kiyak fishing trip with some Buds in the Bay............... Summer will be here any minute once we get into the 70's in the am; not quite there yet (50's in North Florida at the moment) but things are going to warm up quickly in May. 
Near shore SST's are going to jump up nicely this week along the Gulf with the high pressure and clear skies:




Quoting 1000. Gearsts:



Why hello there, El Nino. Nice of you to make yourself seen...
And finally (and Florida and the Gulf aside for the moment) here is today's Conus recap from WPC; the relevant sections as to a possible severe weather threat later for parts of the mid-west have been included.  We need to keep an eye on the North Texas region later today and going into the next several weeks as that warm Gulf flow really starts to pour into the mid-west :

Short Range Forecast Discussion
NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD
429 AM EDT Mon Apr 21 2014

Valid 12Z Mon Apr 21 2014 - 12Z Wed Apr 23 2014

 ...Severe weather will be possible today from Central to Northeast Texas...

...Heavy snow is expected across the Oregon Cascades and over the Tetons...

A definitive pattern change will be underway as a strong upper trof sets
up across the Western U.S. by Tuesday. This will lead to quite a
sinusoidal pattern with unsettled weather across the Western/Eastern U.S.
while ridging across the middle of the nation keeps conditions more
tranquil.

To begin the forecast period, a slow moving cold front was seen moving
toward the Middle Mississippi Valley and Central Plains. Mid-level energy
associated with a weakening trof should help ignite showers and
thunderstorms ahead of the advancing cold front. Much of the convection
should spawn along a north-south oriented trof across Texas/Oklahoma where
low-level convergence will be maximized. Sufficient daytime heating is
expected leading to large amounts of instability in the atmosphere. The
Storm Prediction Center outlook suggests a threat for severe thunderstorm
development anywhere from Central Texas toward the Arkansas/Louisiana
border through tonight.

As an upper trof in the northern stream begins to dig through the Upper
Great Lakes early Tuesday, the cold front is forecast to accelerate
reaching the Eastern Seaboard by late Tuesday night. Showers and
thunderstorms will break out along and ahead of the boundary with any
wintry precipitation remaining north of the U.S./Canadian border. Ahead of
this advancing cold front the temperatures should be quite mild with highs
well into the 70s along the I-95 corridor on Tuesday.

The change in the pattern bringing the large upper trof to the West will
allow cooler and wetter conditions to affect the region. The combination
of onshore flow with frontal and orographic lift will help spread an
expansive region of precipitation to the Western U.S. Snow levels should
fall sufficiently to bring decent accumulations to the Oregon Cascades and
across the Tetons. Both of these mountain ranges can expect snow totals
through early Wednesday of 6 to 10 inches while localized heavier amounts
will be possible. The other aspect of this system will be dry and gusty
winds expected as the pressure gradient tightens across the Intermountain
West. An enhanced risk for wildfire development is in place for the Desert
Southwest on Tuesday with locations further east being affected by
mid-week.







1016. LargoFl
FLOOD ADVISORY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE COLUMBIA SC
515 AM EDT MON APR 21 2014

...THE FLOOD ADVISORY CONTINUES FOR THE CONGAREE RIVER...

CONGAREE RIVER AT COLUMBIA AFFECTING LEXINGTON AND RICHLAND
COUNTIES


PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A FLOOD ADVISORY MEANS THAT NUISANCE FLOODING MAY OCCUR NEAREST THE
RIVER WHEN THE LEVEL IS BELOW THE OFFICIAL FLOOD STAGE.

&&

SCC063-079-220915-
/O.CON.KCAE.FL.Y.0007.000000T0000Z-140422T1000Z/
/COLS1.N.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
515 AM EDT MON APR 21 2014

THE FLOOD ADVISORY CONTINUES FOR
THE CONGAREE RIVER AT COLUMBIA.
* UNTIL TUESDAY MORNING.
* AT 5 AM MONDAY THE STAGE WAS 11.4 FEET.
* ADVISORY STAGE IS 10.0 FEET.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 19.0 FEET.
* FORECAST...THE RIVER is expected to fluctuate between 9 and 12 feet
through tonight.
* AT 10.0 FEET...FLOODING OCCURS OVER lower sections of the CAYCE
AND WEST COLUMBIA RIVER WALK.

&&

1017. LargoFl
Quoting 1012. weathermanwannabe:

Good Morning.  Looking like a beautiful week on tap for Florida with pre-summer temps and clear skies.  I suspect that the beaches and waters will be packed this coming weekend after all the rain this past weekend/Easter and I am already planning for a Saturday kiyak fishing trip with some Buds in the Bay............... Summer will be here any minute once we get into the 70's in the am; not quite there yet (50's in North Florida at the moment) but things are going to warm up quickly in May. 

yes indeed ..finally a week without rain and storms.
1018. LargoFl
1019. hydrus
Long way out but interesting.

1020. LargoFl
ok so florida gets a break from the storms,but we need to watch end of april............................
1021. ricderr
World Meteorological Organization 
 
 
EL NIÑO/LA NIÑA 
UPDATE


In summary:

 ENSO conditions are currently neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña);
 Some evidence of precursors to El Niño have emerged in the tropical Pacific;
 As of early April 2014, outlooks indicate likely continuation of neutral conditions into the
earlier part of the second quarter of 2014;
 Two thirds of models surveyed favour El Niño development, with most of these suggesting
that El Niño thresholds will be reached by July.
 If El Niño does develop, it is likely to continue through the remainder of 2014;
 The strength of the likely El Niño cannot be reliably estimated at the current time.
1022. hydrus
Quoting 1020. LargoFl:

ok so florida gets a break from the storms,but we need to watch end of april............................
That is a broad and wet low..could be interesting.
1023. LargoFl
interesting..man may have been in florida longer than realized....vero beach info...vero man......................Link
1024. hydrus
Severe weather set up if this pans out..
Good Morning/Evening!

Some of the Arab Emirates run their countries on DeSal water. Is that water supply funded by oil or is it actually cost effective?

I agree that a national water supply redistribution network is a fundamental need of this country, the way a national power grid is.

Even more fundamental is establishing a national water law. That cuts across state rights, personal property issues, and individual rights. If water isn't a public resource, and it isn't declared as such everywhere, moving it across state lines or away from personal property is a huge issue.

States down south have multistate water treaties. I can't imagine and upstream state agreeing to move water outside of its boundaries to a different state all together.

In Flat Florida, where it rains can change the direction of flow between basins...yes it is THAT FLAT. But down here, groundwater is our primary drinking and irrigation source, and that is one reason why our Springs have become a major legislative focus.

I think a national water law or a national power grid is a very scary thought when you see what has been created by our government with national health care. Not saying its wrong just really scary.
1027. MahFL
Quoting 1026. splash3392:

I think a national water law or a national power grid is a very scary thought when you see what has been created by our government with national health care. Not saying its wrong just really scary.


What National Health Care program in the USA are you talking about, because non exists.
1028. Dakster
Quoting 1026. splash3392:

I think a national water law or a national power grid is a very scary thought when you see what has been created by our government with national health care. Not saying its wrong just really scary.



If you think this is bad within our own Nation, just wait until water rights cross into other countries.

MahFL - Yup... And I had such high hopes for one too.
Quoting 1006. CaribBoy:


Central islands (the rain magnets) are getting heavy rains... up to 4 inches past 12 hours... and forecast to continue.


Are you receiving much rain?
Quoting 1021. ricderr:

World Meteorological Organization 
 
 
EL NIÑO/LA NIÑA 
UPDATE


In summary:

 ENSO conditions are currently neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña);
 Some evidence of precursors to El Niño have emerged in the tropical Pacific;
 As of early April 2014, outlooks indicate likely continuation of neutral conditions into the
earlier part of the second quarter of 2014;
 Two thirds of models surveyed favour El Niño development, with most of these suggesting
that El Niño thresholds will be reached by July.
 If El Niño does develop, it is likely to continue through the remainder of 2014;
 The strength of the likely El Niño cannot be reliably estimated at the current time.



So it still could be a weak event like 2004 then?
1031. Dakster
Quoting 1030. waterfallgal:



So it still could be a weak event like 2004 then?


As they say Timing is everything - It takes time for the water temp in the Niño regions to affect the atmosphere. It isn't a switch. Since it isn't "here" yet, I would have to say that Nuetral conditions are possible. I can't answer the like 2004 comment though... Although I sure hope not.
Quoting 1021. ricderr:

World Meteorological Organization 
 
 
EL NIÑO/LA NIÑA 
UPDATE


In summary:

 ENSO conditions are currently neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña);
 Some evidence of precursors to El Niño have emerged in the tropical Pacific;
 As of early April 2014, outlooks indicate likely continuation of neutral conditions into the
earlier part of the second quarter of 2014;
 Two thirds of models surveyed favour El Niño development, with most of these suggesting
that El Niño thresholds will be reached by July.
 If El Niño does develop, it is likely to continue through the remainder of 2014;
 The strength of the likely El Niño cannot be reliably estimated at the current time.

I still don't believe a "super el nino" is prominent.
1033. ricderr
So it still could be a weak event like 2004 then?


i would think that the signs are more favorable for a moderate to strong scenario playing out....but an accurate answer to your question would be yes.....at this point it is possible
1034. ricderr
I still don't believe a "super el nino" is prominent.

only a fool...or a weather blogger...which are probably one and the same.....would say unequivocally that a super el nino is positive........when you read the scientists who state the signs are there for a strong event...they all caution it's too early to tell...i think we will be more confident in whether or not its imminent will be towards the middle/end of next month
On the issue of the El Nino, we just have to keep an eye on the SST anomalies and the Aussie Met and other outlooks over the next several months. Most people on here, and the tropical storm forecasting community, focus on the Enso cycle as a "main" potential prediction indicator as to Atlantic basin activity and particularly during the peak August-Sept period.  After that, it plays a big factor in terms of the Winter and Spring storms and rainfall issues.  The point is that we are still several months away from the peak hurricane season, and Conus Fall and Winter/Spring, so there is plenty of time to see in what direction the El Nino "moves" as each of these upcoming periods come up over the next 12 months.  It is a wait and see; moderate conditions in the Fall could give way to a stronger El Nino by Winter/Spring or it could remain at a moderate level throughout, or, it could go the other way................I like to look at it in three month "chunks".

The Aussies will be posting their next update tomorrow morning:

Issued on Tuesday 8 April 2014
| Product Code
IDCKGEWWOO
It is now likely (estimated at a greater than 70% chance) that an El Niño
will develop during the southern hemisphere winter. Although the El
Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral, surface and sub-surface
ocean temperatures have warmed considerably in recent weeks, consistent with a
state of rapid transition. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau
indicate continued warming of the central Pacific Ocean in coming months. Most
models predict sea surface temperatures will reach El Niño thresholds during the
coming winter season.
Next update expected on 22 April 2014
1036. Patrap
Quoting 993. CybrTeddy:



It's real, all it was is just a small RC-drone with a nice camera. Plenty of people saw it happen as well. I think it's just a testament how much of an incredible job SpaceX is doing if people aren't even sure what they're seeing is real.


U betcha, som jus are old and have bad eyes and character.
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
1038. Patrap
Published on Oct 12, 2013
On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude. The view above is taken from a single camera hexacopter, getting closer to the stage than in any previous flight.

Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal.

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.



1039. hydrus
Quoting 1038. Patrap:

Published on Oct 12, 2013
On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude. The view above is taken from a single camera hexacopter, getting closer to the stage than in any previous flight.

Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal.

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.




That is awesome...I want to try operating it..:)
Quoting 1032. washingtonian115:

I still don't believe a "super el nino" is prominent.
Exactly! What's the point of it only benefiting California, no one else?
Quoting 1034. ricderr:

I still don't believe a "super el nino" is prominent.

only a fool...or a weather blogger...which are probably one and the same.....would say unequivocally that a super el nino is positive........when you read the scientists who state the signs are there for a strong event...they all caution it's too early to tell...i think we will be more confident in whether or not its imminent will be towards the middle/end of next month
I'm betting on a moderate to strong el nino for now.We need to take caution before declaring any sort of "super el nino" is on the way like some people have been declaring now for a few months.