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The RRR ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ Returns to California

By: Christopher C. Burt, 10:04 PM GMT on January 09, 2015

The RRR ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ Returns to California

After a very wet first half of December hopes were high that the beginning to the end of California’s years-long drought might finally be at hand. However, virtually no rainfall has fallen across the state since December 18th and none is forecast until at least January 18th. Yet again, a month-long mid-winter dry spell has befallen the state.

Although mid-winter dry spells of two or three weeks are relatively common in California, it is rare that four or more dry weeks occur during the heart of the normally wettest time of the year December-March. During the wet season of 2012-2013 a rainy November and December (2012) came to an abrupt end by January (2013) and the drought began in earnest as a persistent high pressure ridge locked in place over the eastern Pacific (the so-called ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’) and basically remained in place until February 2014. This resulted in the calendar year of 2013 becoming the driest year on record for California. During the wet season of 2013-2014 significant precipitation did not occur until February (2014) when the ridge finally broke down. In spite of the February 2014 rain and snow events, drought conditions worsened throughout the year until the heavy rains of this past December (2014) alleviated some aspects of the drought with state reservoirs gaining back around 5% of their capacities and soil moisture replenished temporarily.



This satellite comparison of ground conditions in California for January 2, 2014 and January 3, 2015 illustrates how the past wet December improved soil moisture conditions in the Central Valley and snow coverage in the Sierra. Graphic courtesy of Thomas Niziol of The Weather Channel.

Now, it appears, the RRR has settled in once again deflecting Pacific storms to the north of California (and bringing flooding to Washington State). No precipitation is on the horizon (going out to at least January 17-18) and some locations in the state have already fallen below seasonal normal precipitation for this time of the year, this following a well above normal wet December.



A comparison of seasonal precipitation totals and their percentages of normal as of December 12, 2014 (bottom table) and as of January 8, 2015 (top table) for select California cities. The list is arranged geographically from north to south across California. By the end of next week (around January 17th) the percentages will have slipped even more significantly if no precipitation falls as is currently forecast. The first half of January is historically one of the wettest two-week periods of the year.

The snow water content in the Sierra Nevada and Cascades is also very disappointing, given all the precipitation that fell in December. At least, so far, the situation is still much better than last year at this time.



Sierra Nevada snow/water content for the northern mountains (Sierra and Cascades), central Sierra, and southern Sierra zones. The blue line is this season (2014-2015) as of January 8th compared to the last two seasons and the historical extremes. As of January 8th the snow/water content for all the regions statewide is 40% of normal for this date. Data from the California Department of Water Resources.



The most recent California Drought Monitor map (conditions as of January 6, 2015) illustrates that 32% of the state is still in the ‘exceptional drought’ category and 78% in the ‘extreme drought’ category. However, we can see some improvement since last October when drought conditions peaked (58% experiencing ‘exceptional drought’ and 82% ‘extreme drought’). NOAA/NCDC.

Not Just Dry but Warm too

According to NOAA/NCDC, the calendar year 2014 was the warmest such on record for the state of California: by the HUGE margin of 1.8°F! The 61.5° statewide average temperature smashed the previous record of 59.7° set in 1934. December was also the warmest such on record for the state and the past few days, this January, have once again seen many daily record highs statewide. On January 6th, the temperature peaked at an amazing 91° at Camarillo in southern California (the January monthly state record remains 97° at Riverside in January 2003).



Average annual temperatures for California and the contiguous U.S. since 1895. Data from NOAA/NCDC.

NOTE: I will be taking a six-week leave of absence, so this will be my last post until around February 20th.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat 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

Thanks for the update, Christopher.

I'm more attuned to the local conditions here in Woodland Hills in SW California but it appears the story is pretty much the same statewide. There hasn't been any progress in the Long Term Palmer Drought Severety Index precipitation deficit precipitation needed to end drought since mid December.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif

In an average Woodland Hills rain season we receive almost 50% of our rain in January & February and almost 80% December-March. We're developing a big hole in the fat part of our rain year.

We occasionally have a fabulous February or a miracle March and we can hope for those but we still need to put more thought and effort into long term water management.
Mr. Burt,
Thanks for your tireless work in helping all of us place weather and climate in proper context. I hope you are able to make the most of your 6-week break and look forward to your return.
Happy vacationing, Chris!

Thanks for the blog post as usual, very interesting stuff over there!
Thanks for this very insightful post. I hope you have a great vacation!
Thank You for the report & graphics Mr. Christopher. LOA? WxU gonna have to hire 20 people to do your work during the historic weather events within those days.
Thank you. Mr. Burt
This is very worrying, because it shows that persistent atmospheric configuration in North America is still on and the few interludes failed to break the long term trend.
We should try to make a comparision with long droughts in the past and compare the indexes like the PDO ,possibly the ENSO too (in the case a NEUTRAL ENSO could be one of the key) ,etc.
AO and QBO has changed several times during this long drought spell , so I doubt such a short term index oscillations might be included into the factors of a so long and persistent atmospheric configuration.
Than, I fail to see any connection with the AMO, albeit this might affect the Eastern USA (Atlantic).
The Polar Vortex has been both weak an strong during this couple of years, the ITCZ has been quite normal with its normal small variations, Hadley Cells positions not very abnormal either. And anyway they woulnd't affect all seasons at that latitude.
I think another study should be regarding the Jet Streams and any possible anomaly in their flux too.
We have to try to consider all variable factors which might have a connection to this persistent situation and make a comparision with past long dry spells.
The logic suggests me the PDO is almost certainly part of the equation, but with an association with other factor(s). We have to find which combination of factors is causing this persistent atmospheric configuration.
PDO is a long cycle, but a combination between it and other cycle(s) might last for a shorter term.
How long have this drought going on ? A couple of years ? How long have the neutral ENSO going on ? A couple of years ? So, just an idea, a try , can we analyze past situations with a combination of PDO - and neutral ENSO , which effects have brought to Southwestern USA ?
Your prediction of no rain is way off its 1-11 and in most of S. Cal it has been raining since yesterday. Today's first 8 hours have given the desert city of Ridgecrest 5% of it annual rain and is expected to provide about 11% in total.
Indeed, the storm impacting southern CA turned out much wetter than forecast! I see even downtown L.A. and LAX picked up an inch of precip!

Quoting 8. rinkevichjm:

Your prediction of no rain is way off its 1-11 and in most of S. Cal it has been raining since yesterday. Today's first 8 hours have given the desert city of Ridgecrest 5% of it annual rain and is expected to provide about 11% in total.
I always look forward to your posts also
GWV.

Quoting 5. vis0:

Thank You for the report & graphics Mr. Christopher. LOA? WxU gonna have to hire 20 people to do your work during the historic weather events within those days.



Sadly it looks like not one of those 20 will be need to keep track of CA rain events. Hope I'm wrong.
GWV
Off topic remark: Germany crashed its country January record, was 19.5 C in 2007, is 20.5 C per the 10th.
Also some high to record temps in Austria and Switserland.

Addition. Old January record Austria was 20.6 C, 29th 2002 at Bernhof. On the 10th this year eight spots passed this, new country record set at Obervellach 21.7 C.
Quoting 11. cRRKampen:

Off topic remark: Germany crashed its country January record, was 19.5 C in 2007, is 20.5 C per the 10th.
Also some high to record temps in Austria and Switserland.

Addition. Old January record Austria was 20.6 C, 29th 2002 at Bernhof. On the 10th this year eight spots passed this, new country record set at Obervellach 21.7 C.


The record was reached in the suburbs of Graz at Stragang, too. The heatburst around 9 o'clock from 3 C to 17 C is also remarkable.


The records were caused by an austrianwide Foehnstorm, which tore off some roofs in Tirol, where the wind blew at over 100 km/h or 28 m/s.
http://orf.at/stories/2260688/2260690/
Quebec City airport reportedly had a new record all-time coldest temperature of -36.7 C / -34.1 F yesterday. The cold in the east could be related to ridging in the west. (Scroll past the video in the link.)

Link
Quoting 9. weatherhistorian:

Indeed, the storm impacting southern CA turned out much wetter than forecast! I see even downtown L.A. and LAX picked up an inch of precip!



Unexpected and welcome but even so... the long term index precipitation deficit precipitation needed to end drought for the interior deserts has deteriorated and maybe more significantly so has the long term index precipitation deficit precipitation needed to end drought for the San Joaquin Valley.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
Also last week the northern part of the Central Valley (the Sacramento River Valley) has relapsed to the Exceptional Drought classification.



Map source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
Ridiculously resilient ridge raises resentment regarding reservoir retreat!
Quoting 16. BaltimoreBrian:

Ridiculously resilient ridge raises resentment regarding reservoir retreat!


Really?
You can fix the drought problem by building a US-Mexico Canal to replenish Salton Sea from Gulf of California. It will revitalize and bring additional rainfall and water to Southern California and Western part of Arizona. It should also help Southern Nevada a little.

From a Geological history point of view, even San Joaquin Valley were part of Gulf of California. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Joaquin_Valley#G eological_history)
In that Scenario, there can be no drought in United States, even in the High Plains, because the Gulf of California will now be extended from the mouth of Colorado River to Redding and the precipitation generated by the "Ridiculously resilient High-Low Pressure ridge" will prevent any kind of drought to happen in Western United States and Northern Mexico.
http://www.weatherwest.com/wp-content/uploads/201 5/01/compday.l17cwbz82s.gif
Quoting 18. FormosanBlackBear:

You can fix the drought problem by building a US-Mexico Canal to replenish Salton Sea from Gulf of California. It will revitalize and bring additional rainfall and water to Southern California and Western part of Arizona. It should also help Southern Nevada a little.

From a Geological history point of view, even San Joaquin Valley were part of Gulf of California. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Joaquin_Valley#G eological_history)
In that Scenario, there can be no drought in United States, even in the High Plains, because the Gulf of California will now be extended from the mouth of Colorado River to Redding and the precipitation generated by the "Ridiculously resilient High-Low Pressure ridge" will prevent any kind of drought to happen in Western United States and Northern Mexico.
http://www.weatherwest.com/wp-content/uploads/201 5/01/compday.l17cwbz82s.gif


I doubt that would work. I mean, the Colorado River doesn't even make it to the Gulf of California (and the Colorado River was one of its main outflows). It's a trickle after the Morelos Dam due to the water being diverted for irrigation. Besides, the U.S. and Mexico would have to sign an agreement to those water rights. Then you have the costs. It would cost millions if not billions to build the canal and divert the water from the gulf of california to the salton sea. To extend it to redding would take years.
Quoting DCSwithunderscores:

Really?

Right!
I agree that it would take years but there is already a fresh water canal from NorCal to LA, so it can be done. Plus first things first, the Gulf of California/Lake Cahuilla should extend to Indio. It's a beautiful area for Birdwatching and even Spring Butterflies Swarms are amazing. The entire Imperial Valley should look like California Coast, not the Arid Desert it is right now.

I believe there is a 10 billion dollar proposal to build solar power pipes from San Diego.
http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2 014/09/28/canals-pipelines-salton-sea/16405757/
The biggest obstacle, it seems like, is the loss of farm lands and Native American lands. Losing the largest city, El Centro, in Imperial County is not going to go too well with the voters there either. You are taking away their American Dream and most of them are migrant farm workers toil away for their entire life to own a small piece of land to make a living. At the end, when politics gets involved nothing will happen. Let's not forgot also anything that benefit Arizona is not going to happen under the current administration. Remember Obama-McCain '08? It's such a political hot potatoe, it's already force the the retirement of Junior Senator from California four years from now. (Not enough money to overcome the loss of Hispanic votes)

At the end, it will probably take natural disaster like the flood of 1905 or Tsunami in the Gulf of California to return Lake Cahuilla or Gulf of California to Colorado River Deltas. (both Southern and Salton Sea) It's a sad but often repeated practice of folly in history. Countless lives and properties will be lost with billions spend only on studies to find solutions...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Cahuilla

BTW, US and Mexico already have an agreement sharing the Colorado River's water. If built, the canal, not the pipeline, and its surrounded area can also be use to house the immigrants from Central America. But that is just too easy and simple for anyone to get political points out of it so the problem and the shouting persist like the RRR over the looming environmental and natural disaster...

Quoting 19. TimTheWxMan:



I doubt that would work. I mean, the Colorado River doesn't even make it to the Gulf of California (and the Colorado River was one of its main outflows). It's a trickle after the Morelos Dam due to the water being diverted for irrigation. Besides, the U.S. and Mexico would have to sign an agreement to those water rights. Then you have the costs. It would cost millions if not billions to build the canal and divert the water from the gulf of california to the salton sea. To extend it to redding would take years.
Quoting 21. FormosanBlackBear:

I agree that it would take years but there is already a fresh water canal from NorCal to LA, so it can be done. Plus first things first, the Gulf of California/Lake Cahuilla should extend to Indio. It's a beautiful area for Birdwatching and even Spring Butterflies Swarms are amazing. The entire Imperial Valley should look like California Coast, not the Arid Desert it is right now.

I believe there is a 10 billion dollar proposal to build solar power pipes from San Diego.
http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2 014/09/28/canals-pipelines-salton-sea/16405757/
The biggest obstacle, it seems like, is the loss of farm lands and Native American lands. Losing the largest city, El Centro, in Imperial County is not going to go too well with the voters there either. You are taking away their American Dream and most of them are migrant farm workers toil away for their entire life to own a small piece of land to make a living. At the end, when politics gets involved nothing will happen. Let's not forgot also anything that benefit Arizona is not going to happen under the current administration. Remember Obama-McCain '08? It's such a political hot potatoe, it's already force the the retirement of Junior Senator from California four years from now. (Not enough money to overcome the loss of Hispanic votes)

At the end, it will probably take natural disaster like the flood of 1905 or Tsunami in the Gulf of California to return Lake Cahuilla or Gulf of California to Colorado River Deltas. (both Southern and Salton Sea) It's a sad but often repeated practice of folly in history. Countless lives and properties will be lost with billions spend only on studies to find solutions...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Cahuilla

BTW, US and Mexico already have an agreement sharing the Colorado River's water. If built, the canal, not the pipeline, and its surrounded area can also be use to house the immigrants from Central America. But that is just too easy and simple for anyone to get political points out of it so the problem and the shouting persist like the RRR over the looming environmental and natural disaster...





That was another thing i was going to point out. There's lots of farmland in the imperial valley and the locals wouldn't be too happy with eminent domain.
This week California's Central Coast takes a step backward in precipitation deficit precipitation needed to end drought.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
I love the Average Annual Temperature Graph...
Kind of interesting if you look at how the right end of the chart shows a bit of a change to an upward average slope... after around 1970-1973...

Hmmm... what happened back then that was a recognizable change to our US world...?
Oh, yeah... automotive emission controls were tightened around 1973 and after that the average temperatures ramped up a bit.

Coincidence? Nah, couldn't be....

Almost like when open burning of leaves and stuff like that was made illegal back on the East Coast about fifty or so years ago... and rainfall patterns seemed to shift, too...

Nah, no possible relationship, right?
Cheers!
I just wonder about the deafening silence coming from weather sites like these in regards to the topic of weather geoengineering. Why not tell people the truth about this so called RRR and how the US military controls what happens in the skies off the coast of California throught its chemtrail program. Are you not allowed to talk about it? Its out in the open for anyone interested enough to look it up on google and has in fact been admited to, and while we're at it why not address the HAARP program and their heating of the atmosphere. People know a hell of a lot more than you think so you are just complicit by not talking about the realities of weather manipulation and you are making yourselves look STUPID.
Quoting 25. chessy:

I just wonder about the deafening silence coming from weather sites like these in regards to the topic of weather geoengineering. Why not tell people the truth about this so called RRR and how the US military controls what happens in the skies off the coast of California throught its chemtrail program. Are you not allowed to talk about it? Its out in the open for anyone interested enough to look it up on google and has in fact been admited to, and while we're at it why not address the HAARP program and their heating of the atmosphere. People know a hell of a lot more than you think so you are just complicit by not talking about the realities of weather manipulation and you are making yourselves look STUPID.


You're kidding, right?
Quoting 25. chessy:

I just wonder about the deafening silence coming from weather sites like these in regards to the topic of weather geoengineering. Why not tell people the truth about this so called RRR and how the US military controls what happens in the skies off the coast of California throught its chemtrail program. Are you not allowed to talk about it? Its out in the open for anyone interested enough to look it up on google and has in fact been admited to, and while we're at it why not address the HAARP program and their heating of the atmosphere. People know a hell of a lot more than you think so you are just complicit by not talking about the realities of weather manipulation and you are making yourselves look STUPID.


This is a science-based blog. You can find a lot about chemtrails at some conspiracy theory sites.

Here's a video about conspiracy theories, including conspiracy theories about chemtrails and HAARP.

Link
Quoting 22. TimTheWxMan:




That was another thing i was going to point out. There's lots of farmland in the imperial valley and the locals wouldn't be too happy with eminent domain.


The run off is actually causing the problem because Salton Sea does not empty out to Pacific Ocean. That said, the area between Blythe and the Salton Sea north and south of InterState 10 can be a good area to compensate those lost land, double the size of Colorado River Reservation on the west side of river! 95 and 78 can be turn into InterState from Las Vegas to Mexico which will help both the farmers to move next to Colorado River. A alternate would be along Gila River if they are willing to move to Arizona.

Now for El Centro, it should be like Palm Spring and move closer to the hills to the west, toward Anza Borrego State Park. How much you want to bet the New El Centro Rivera would increase in population and property value? If there still any doubts just check property value of homes with ocean view from LA to San Diego! The new El Central would probably have a InterState running through it from Indio beside the 95/78 InterState to Yuma!

Lastly, the problem with Mexico can be resolve by sharing 50% of increasing volume of the Colorado River (Mexico is only getting ~10%?) and turn it into a Suez/Panama deal. Damming Colorado river is a good but temporarily solution. The extended Gulf of California will actually increase volume of fresh water in the Colorado Basin. The tax revenue from the Marina popping up all over the place alone would pay for all the projects including the Interstate Highways, Solar Plants, and water treatment facilities for California, Mexicali and Sonora. I would even venture to say that it will pay for High Speed Railway from San Diego, LA, Las Vegas, and even Mexico City! Look, would you rather have a piece of land in Sahara desert or 1/10 of the land along the coast of Mediterranean Sea? Without the gap at Gibraltar, Southern Europe, Turkey, and any body of water South of the Alps and east of Iberia become deserts. That is the difference extended Gulf of California will make! But unless the politicians can make points and money off this project, normal people like the new and the Original Americans, whom I have the privilege to pray for and minster to, will continue to be denied a better American dream and be enslaved in subsistence farming and living reservation lives deprive of hope!
The Delta Smelt: A Tiny Fish with Big Implications

The delta smelt is a fish that grows to no more than three inches in length, but over the years this threatened species has made big headlines in California’s dusty, water-rights battleground. One congressional representative, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is even on record as calling the smelt a “stupid little fish” that doesn’t deserve water ....(snip) Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed such narrow-minded claims by denying a Big Ag-led attack against the smelt.

Protecting the delta smelt has reverberations far beyond the fate of one little fish, however. By denying Big Ag’s challenge of water restrictions meant to protect the smelt, the Supreme Court leaves in place a longstanding ruling that the Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to consider the preservation of all endangered species their highest priority.

But that’s not all. The Supreme Court’s decision also protects the much larger ecosystem dependent on an adequate flow of fresh water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Thanks to protections provided to the smelt and its habitat by the Endangered Species Act, many other species are now kept from joining the smelt’s imperiled ranks.

Finally, freshwater flows through the Delta support valuable commercial and sport fisheries and provide irrigation water for Delta farmers and drinking water for millions of Californians.

...(snip)

California’s longstanding water management problems are rooted in massive state and federal water projects that transfer unsustainable quantities of water ....(snip) it’s easier for lawmakers to deny climate change and blame the tiny delta smelt for the lack of water than to address the bigger issue of unsustainable water projects.

...(snip)

Fortunately, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision, politicians and the agricultural industry will finally be forced to move beyond blaming a tiny fish for all of their water woes.

....(snip)

Read more.
Blogger Daniel Swain alleges that he coined the term RRR and in his blog dated 1/17/15, he says about whether or not RRR has returned:

"No not yet, at least. Decembers active weather means that there is not yet a multi-month ridging signature over the northeastern Pacific, and thus the Triple-R as previously defined is not present at the moment. But strong ridging anomalies are now creeping back into monthly averages, and as this pattern continues for the next 1-2 weeks I do expect that a stronger signal will emerge."
Quoting 31. AGalanks:

Blogger Daniel Swain alleges that he coined the term RRR and in his blog dated 1/17/15, he says about whether or not RRR has returned:

"No not yet, at least. Decembers active weather means that there is not yet a multi-month ridging signature over the northeastern Pacific, and thus the Triple-R as previously defined is not present at the moment. But strong ridging anomalies are now creeping back into monthly averages, and as this pattern continues for the next 1-2 weeks I do expect that a stronger signal will emerge."

Source is
A new year, a new ridge: dry and warm conditions return to California, but how does the present pattern compare to last year's? : California Weather Blog.
Worser & Worser...
This week California's southern coast and the southern & northern Central Valley sink further into precipitation deficits in precipitation needed to end drought.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
Any speculaiton on what effect the off-the-charts warm PDO has on the RRR?
But AGalanks, I improved it in comment 16 as you can see ;)
Today while walking the dog in flip-flops and shorts (Monterey Bay, California), I ran into an old-timer who declared it is the worst drought ever. He is wrong. Some historical perspective needs to be brought into place when dealing with our current situation. For example, the great drought of 1863-1864 put an end to cattle raising as the distinctive industry of Southern California according to the Historical Society of Southern California. On one ranch alone, 30,000 cattle starved to death.

Further, in the Annual Report of the Committee on Meteorology, the Chairman William Edgar noted [edited]:

Since the time records were kept, there has been recorded some half dozen droughts and about an equal number of floods occurring in this state. The first drought recorded caused deep distress. About 13 years after this disastrous season, the precipitation recorded in Sacramento was still only 7.79 inches.

It would seem from looking back over the meteorological data as far as the record goes, we have (especially in the southern part of the state) had years of droughts and floods running somewhat rhythmically as if there was in nature a tendency to restore within a still larger undefined cycle of time an equilibrium in seasons and a uniformity in climate.

That observation was made on January 5, 1891!! Yes, 1891.
Quoting 36. AGalanks:

Today while walking the dog in flip-flops and shorts (Monterey Bay, California), I ran into an old-timer who declared it is the worst drought ever. He is wrong. Some historical perspective needs to be brought into place when dealing with our current situation. For example, the great drought of 1863-1864 put an end to cattle raising as the distinctive industry of Southern California according to the Historical Society of Southern California. On one ranch alone, 30,000 cattle starved to death.

Further, in the Annual Report of the Committee on Meteorology, the Chairman William Edgar noted [edited]:

Since the time records were kept, there has been recorded some half dozen droughts and about an equal number of floods occurring in this state. The first drought recorded caused deep distress. About 13 years after this disastrous season, the precipitation recorded in Sacramento was still only 7.79 inches.

It would seem from looking back over the meteorological data as far as the record goes, we have (especially in the southern part of the state) had years of droughts and floods running somewhat rhythmically as if there was in nature a tendency to restore within a still larger undefined cycle of time an equilibrium in seasons and a uniformity in climate.

That observation was made on January 5, 1891!! Yes, 1891.

Study: How unusual is the 2012-2014 California drought?

Article: Drought: California's dry spell is the worst of the last 1,200 years, study finds | 89.3 KPCC

California's current drought is the worst of the last 1,200 years, according to a new analysis from the University of Minnesota and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

....(snip)

The new study was published by the American Geophysical Union.

It found that in particular, the water year for 2014, which ended in September, was most likely the driest period examined, said researcher Kevin Anchukaitis.

That includes 1580, 1782 and 1829 which were all famously dry years.

"2014 appears to be from our best estimate, slightly drier than these," he explained.

....(snip)

Not only is the weather severely dry, but the extreme heat of the last several years has baked much of the moisture out of the soil, creating intense drought conditions, the report finds.

....(snip)

One thing the researchers noticed was that rainfall during the current drought isn't abnormally low for a dry period.

Rather, it seems to be the region's intense heat that has made the drought so unusual, Anchukaitis said.

As the temperature rises, more soil and plant moisture is lost to evapotranspiration. This worsens the effects of the drought.

He noted that man-made climate change is expected to send temperatures across the state even higher in the future, which could mean more so called "hot droughts" are on the way.

....(snip)
CLIMATE REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
435 PM PST THU JAN 29 2015


...................................

...THE SAN FRANCISCO DWTN CA CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR JANUARY 29 2015...
VALID TODAY AS OF 0400 PM LOCAL TIME.

CLIMATE NORMAL PERIOD 1981 TO 2010
CLIMATE RECORD PERIOD 1850 TO 2015


WEATHER ITEM OBSERVED TIME RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST
VALUE (LST) VALUE VALUE FROM YEAR
NORMAL
................................................. .................
TEMPERATURE (F)
TODAY
MAXIMUM 66 143 PM 71 1899 58 8 61
MINIMUM 51 743 AM 36 1922 46 5 54
AVERAGE 59 52 7 58

PRECIPITATION (IN)
TODAY 0.00 4.67 1881 0.14 -0.14 0.00
MONTH TO DATE 0.00 4.19 -4.19 0.03
SINCE JUL 1 15.09 13.30 1.79 2.11
SINCE JAN 1 0.00 4.19 -4.19 0.03

The forecast
LowerCal thanks for posting that study. It was interesting. I have my skepticism but I won't go into detail because I think we all agree that studies are not the word of God but a gathering of information based upon the interpretation and/or agenda of the reviewing entity.

As an edible mushroom hunter, I pay very close attention to the ground moisture and my 2014 porcini mushroom haul and chanterelle mushroom haul was huge. 2013 was a more difficult season with a paucity of mushrooms. My 2015 spring edible amanita haul has been impressive so far.

I am much more interested in local reports by seasoned farmers or watchful observers. If one digs through the archives and reads the local observations (early 19th century records) one gains amazing perspective. Stats and data are one thing but the eye of a watchful observer/documentarian of someone who is actually standing on that soil is invaluable to me.
GeoengineeringWatch and CaliforniaSkyWatch have interesting information on this phenomena, which I think adequately explains it.
Quoting 41. AGalanks:

LowerCal thanks for posting that study. It was interesting. I have my skepticism but I won't go into detail...
Oh no! :^( Please do with any specific flaws you find.

... because I think we all agree that studies are not the word of God but a gathering of information...
Studies are a gathering of objective information reproducible by all readers. (No, they do not contain claims of supernatural revelation to the study authors.)

... based upon the interpretation and/or agenda of the reviewing entity.
Here you either misunderstand or misrepresent. Authors present their conclusions based on the objectively verifiable evidence they present and on the details of the methods of analysis they present. Those knowledgeable in the subject may then review the study for flaws and weaknesses.

As an edible mushroom hunter, I pay very close attention to the ground moisture and my 2014 porcini mushroom haul and chanterelle mushroom haul was huge. 2013 was a more difficult season with a paucity of mushrooms. My 2015 spring edible amanita haul has been impressive so far.
The Monterey Bay area is currently classified in the Extreme Drought category. However you imply that mushroom harvests are a reliable proxy for long term ground moisture and that it has increased as the drought worsened for the state overall. Has the Monterey Bay area bucked the overall trend until now? Also isn't one good rain enough to produce harvestable mushrooms without any significant longer term impact on ground moisture?

I am much more interested in local reports by seasoned farmers or watchful observers.
...but only if they agree with your interpretation and/or agenda. In #36 you say, "I ran into an old-timer who declared it is the worst drought ever. He is wrong."

If one digs through the archives and reads the local observations (early 19th century records) one gains amazing perspective. Stats and data are one thing but the eye of a watchful observer/documentarian of someone who is actually standing on that soil is invaluable to me.
The blue oaks used in the study have been standing on the soil permanently recording their observations since as far back as 1293. They were used because, "Blue oak tree-ring chronologies have one of the strongest moisture signals of all the species used for dendroclimatology [St. George, 2014]". Sounds pretty documentarian to me. Also, ".... while other oaks are resistant to drought, few of them combine all the mechanisms of conservation, tolerance and resiliency that are present in the blue oak." So blue oaks survive doughts the better to document them.

What is the period of record in your edited and unlinked quote in #37 #36?
Further, in the Annual Report of the Committee on Meteorology, the Chairman William Edgar noted [edited]:

Since the time records were kept, there has been recorded some half dozen droughts and about an equal number of floods occurring in this state. The first drought recorded caused deep distress. About 13 years after this disastrous season, the precipitation recorded in Sacramento was still only 7.79 inches.

It would seem from looking back over the meteorological data as far as the record goes, we have (especially in the southern part of the state) had years of droughts and floods running somewhat rhythmically as if there was in nature a tendency to restore within a still larger undefined cycle of time an equilibrium in seasons and a uniformity in climate.

That observation was made on January 5, 1891!! Yes, 1891.
So you recommend that we should just hang our hat on the musings that some indefinite unspecified cycle will bring things back to normal... sometime? There is no possibility that climate is in the process of changing? Just forget about planning for the longer term, everything's gonna be alright?

43. LowerCal

I'm your huckleberry
Quoting 36. AGalanks:

Today while walking the dog in flip-flops and shorts (Monterey Bay, California), I ran into an old-timer who declared it is the worst drought ever. He is wrong. Some historical perspective needs to be brought into place when dealing with our current situation. For example, the great drought of 1863-1864 put an end to cattle raising as the distinctive industry of Southern California according to the Historical Society of Southern California. On one ranch alone, 30,000 cattle starved to death.

Further, in the Annual Report of the Committee on Meteorology, the Chairman William Edgar noted [edited]:

Since the time records were kept, there has been recorded some half dozen droughts and about an equal number of floods occurring in this state. The first drought recorded caused deep distress. About 13 years after this disastrous season, the precipitation recorded in Sacramento was still only 7.79 inches.

It would seem from looking back over the meteorological data as far as the record goes, we have (especially in the southern part of the state) had years of droughts and floods running somewhat rhythmically as if there was in nature a tendency to restore within a still larger undefined cycle of time an equilibrium in seasons and a uniformity in climate.

That observation was made on January 5, 1891!! Yes, 1891.


January was the driest on record at the downtown station in S.F. which has a POR since 1850. There was Zero rain at this station , the oldest on the West coast.

In 165 years this has never occurred.
Quoting 41. AGalanks:

LowerCal thanks for posting that study. It was interesting. I have my skepticism but I won't go into detail because I think we all agree that studies are not the word of God but a gathering of information based upon the interpretation and/or agenda of the reviewing entity.

As an edible mushroom hunter, I pay very close attention to the ground moisture and my 2014 porcini mushroom haul and chanterelle mushroom haul was huge. 2013 was a more difficult season with a paucity of mushrooms. My 2015 spring edible amanita haul has been impressive so far.

I am much more interested in local reports by seasoned farmers or watchful observers. If one digs through the archives and reads the local observations (early 19th century records) one gains amazing perspective. Stats and data are one thing but the eye of a watchful observer/documentarian of someone who is actually standing on that soil is invaluable to me.


January was the driest on record at the downtown station in S.F. which has a POR since 1850. There was Zero rain at this station , the oldest on the West coast.

In 165 years this has never occurred.
Quoting LowerCal:
Oh no! :^( Please do with any specific flaws you find.

Studies are a gathering of objective information reproducible by all readers. (No, they do not contain claims of supernatural revelation to the study authors.)...
[snip]
One of those comments I wish I could upvote a hundred times. That was an excellent, well thought-out, fact-based, evidence-backed rebuttal.
Quoting 36. AGalanks:

...I ran into an old-timer who declared it is the worst drought ever. He is wrong. Some historical perspective needs to be brought into place when dealing with our current situation. For example, the great drought of 1863-1864 put an end to cattle raising as the distinctive industry of Southern California according to the Historical Society of Southern California. On one ranch alone, 30,000 cattle starved to death. ...William Edgar noted:

"Since the time records were kept, there has been recorded some half dozen droughts and about an equal number of floods occurring in this state."
...It would seem from looking back over the meteorological data as far as the record goes, we have (especially in the southern part of the state) had years of droughts and floods running somewhat rhythmically as if there was in nature a tendency to restore within a still larger undefined cycle of time an equilibrium in seasons and a uniformity in climate....

Your argument basically boils down to this:
There have been droughts and floods in the past, therefor you cannot say that this particular drought is the worst in history.

That doesn't make any sense. One statement is about a quantity; it is indicating the number of events but gives no information on severity. The statement "worst drought" is specific to the severity of the event; to analyze the severity one would need to have other events with which to compare. The interesting part of that statement is that basically, by definition, there would have to have been droughts before to even compare relative severity.

If you want to analyze relative severity of droughts, you're going to need a more objective measure (PDSI is an example), rather than anecdotes.
Quoting 27. DCSwithunderscores:



This is a science-based blog. You can find a lot about chemtrails at some conspiracy theory sites.

Here's a video about conspiracy theories, including conspiracy theories about chemtrails and HAARP.

Link

Thanks for the link, DCS. I've saved that video, and subscribed to that channel. I don't watch much TV at all, and had no clue a 'truTV' channel existed...or that Jesse Ventura's team of 'expert researchers' inexplicably connected HAARP to the 1994 tsunami. What a farce.

My takeaway - basic science education in the US is an epic fail for so many. There was humor in the video, sure, but what a tragedy overall.
Quoting 49. ScottLincoln:


Your argument basically boils down to this:
There have been droughts and floods in the past, therefor you cannot say that this particular drought is the worst in history.

That doesn't make any sense. One statement is about a quantity; it is indicating the number of events but gives no information on severity. The statement "worst drought" is specific to the severity of the event; to analyze the severity one would need to have other events with which to compare. The interesting part of that statement is that basically, by definition, there would have to have been droughts before to even compare relative severity.

If you want to analyze relative severity of droughts, you're going to need a more objective measure (PDSI is an example), rather than anecdotes.

Great, Scott! I see that (although I didn't really mind) I expended more effort than absolutely necessary. The #36 argument fails on logic alone.
... and the hits keep coming!
About half of California slides deeper into precipitation deficits in precipitation needed to end drought this week. Hopefully by next week the trend will reverse.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
Cooler temps, rainfall help state cut water use 22% in December, but that rate of conservation may not last | 89.3 KPCC
State officials say California cities cut water use by more than 22 percent in December over the previous year, meeting for the first time the goal for water savings set by Gov. Jerry Brown when he declared drought last January.

About 56 percent of the state%u2019s population lives in the South Coast Hydrologic Region, which stretches from Ventura down to San Diego and east toward Riverside. South Coast achieved the third-highest conservation totals, and was one of five regions to beat Brown%u2019s goal in December.

Some highlights:

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power cut water use about 21 percent compared with last December. L.A.'s calculated consumption average, 62 gallons a person a day, helped LADWP earn an honorable mention from water officials %u2013 who saved the top tier for districts whose users consumer less than 60 gallons of water a day.

....(snip)
Click the title to read the complete article with information on all other areas of California.
With so many people in CA since 1800's the impact of drought is immediate and severe.
I disagree. IMHO, Colorado River's inability to form Lake Cahuilla from time to time is the main reason.

Quoting 57. hussgolf:

With so many people in CA since 1800's the impact of drought is immediate and severe.
Mr. Burt,
I hope more global weather extremes posts on a monthly basis are forthcoming. I really enjoy reading those.
Quoting 58. FormosanBlackBear:

I disagree. IMHO, Colorado River's inability to form Lake Cahuilla from time to time is the main reason.



...?
The Colorado River no longer receives enough water near it's mouth to even begin to flood the Imperial/Coachella Valleys which is necessary to expand the Salton Sea into what was once called Lake Cahuilla. Why does the Colorado River flow no longer reach these volumes at the mouth? Because of a combination of drought and massive population increases. The population increase is one of (and potentially the largest of) the reasons that the area you describe no longer floods naturally.
Quoting 60. ScottLincoln:


...?
The Colorado River no longer receives enough water near it's mouth to even begin to flood the Imperial/Coachella Valleys which is necessary to expand the Salton Sea into what was once called Lake Cahuilla. Why does the Colorado River flow no long reach these volumes at the mouth? Because of a combination of drought and massive population increases. The population increase is one of (and potentially the largest of) the reasons that the area you describe no longer floods naturally.

Colorado River - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
....(snip) The river and its tributaries are controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which divert 90% of its water in the U.S. alone to furnish irrigation and municipal water supply for almost 40 million people both inside and outside the watershed. ....(snip)


The flood of the half-century — and you probably haven’t heard about it.

Even for a country used to flooding, this has been something beyond pretty much anyone’s experience.
Link



NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Malawi, almost twice as many as previously estimated, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

Floods triggered by weeks of heavy rains have affected more than 1 million people, killed 276 and injured more than 600, according to new figures released by the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) unit.


Link
Where did the Colorado go? Second episode of NOVA, aired March 10 1974. Also an episode of BBC's series Horizons.

Quoting 40. LowerCal:

With California drought lengthening, city of Los Angeles develops stormwater capture plan | 89.3 KPCC
So glad to see that headline. One time I was driving through the steep area below Sunset Blvd, like west of Laurel Canyon Rd, and torrents of (rain)water, - a foot high, I'm not exaggerating - were rushing and gushing downhill into the storm drains. Seeing that, I couldn't help wondering why they had no way to catch it.

Extended drought at the level they label "exceptional" is the worst weather on Earth. I feel for you, LC, and for and all affected.
Historic TC in the Northwestpacific:
Tropical Storm Higos is the first recorded storm to occur in the "blank period" between February the 8th and 14th.
The Digital-Typhoon-Database goes back to 1951, the JTWC-Best Track Data goes back to 1945.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Pacific_typhoon _season
http://agora.ex.nii.ac.jp/digital-typhoon/help/se ason.html.en
http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/be st_tracks/wpindex.php
Quoting 64. Barefootontherocks:

So glad to see that headline. One time I was driving through the steep area below Sunset Blvd, like west of Laurel Canyon Rd, and torrents of (rain)water, - a foot high, I'm not exaggerating - were rushing and gushing downhill into the storm drains. Seeing that, I couldn't help wondering why they had no way to catch it.

Extended drought at the level they label "exceptional" is the worst weather on Earth. I feel for you, LC, and for and all affected.
Thank you for your expression of compassion. The farmers and farm workers in the Central Valley are most distressed - farmers clearing orchards they are unable to water and farm workers with no work.

In the Los Angeles area it's made people more aware of our own water needs and water waste. Some let their lawns go brown or did drought tolerant relandscaping. In the local TV weather segments rain is spoken of in positive terms now. The cultural climate has become supportive of efforts described in the article. Those efforts may be currently be small relative to the problem but at least it's movement in the right direction.
An Area of Improvement
The Sacramento River basin, one of the areas hosed by the atmospheric river last week, has reduced its amount of precipitation needed to end drought.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
Drought is making it hard to meet air pollution reduction demands | 89.3 KPCC
....(snip) Lack of rain has meant that more of the particles have remained in the air, leading average levels to remain high. While a wet 2015 could bring levels into line with federal requirements, AQMD officials wrote that such an outcome is far from guaranteed.
....(snip)
Explain Salton Sea Puzzle (from the New York Times, November 12, 1905)
Quoting 69. BaltimoreBrian:

Explain Salton Sea Puzzle (from the New York Times, November 12, 1905)
Seems like some entity was doing a good job of covering up their screwup... for a while anyway.

California Development Company - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
....(snip) The Imperial Canal filled with silt at an alarming pace. Attempts to create a diversion around the silt blockages led to disaster, when winter flooding in 1905 tumbled the diversion canal. The whole of the Colorado River poured into the Salton Sink, forming the Salton Sea. The area was a scene of flood for two years until the canal breach was mended. ....(snip)
Quoting 70. LowerCal:

Seems like some entity was doing a good job of covering up their screwup... for a while anyway.

California Development Company - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
....(snip) The Imperial Canal filled with silt at an alarming pace. Attempts to create a diversion around the silt blockages led to disaster, when winter flooding in 1905 tumbled the diversion canal. The whole of the Colorado River poured into the Salton Sink, forming the Salton Sea. The area was a scene of flood for two years until the canal breach was mended. ....(snip)


I love the news article and how it claims that their big study concluded that water was getting into the Salon Sink through "fissures." Meanwhile, in Mexico, a big illegal cut was made into the levee of the Colorado River which let it flow, virtually unimpeded, into the headwaters of the Alamo River, and then on to the Salton Sink.
Quoting 71. ScottLincoln:


I love the news article and how it claims that their big study concluded that water was getting into the Salon Sink through "fissures." Meanwhile, in Mexico, a big illegal cut was made into the levee of the Colorado River which let it flow, virtually unimpeded, into the headwaters of the Alamo River, and then on to the Salton Sink.

More details of the backstory with emphasis added by me:
Alamo Canal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
....(snip)
In the mid- to late-Nineteenth Century several individuals, most notably O. M. Wozencraft, proposed irrigating the Salton Sink by diverting a controlled gravity-fed flow of the Colorado River through the existing dry Alamo River bed.[6] The Alamo Canal was the first attempt to create that diversion. It was engineered by George Chaffey of the California Development Company starting in 1900.[1][7]

The canal intake and temporary wooden headgates (known as the Chaffey Gate) were initially located in the United States at Pilot Knob due to the availability of a solid rock foundation. The canal then crossed the border with Mexico and ran parallel to the Colorado River for approximately 4 miles (6.4 km), where a channel was cut several miles west to the head of the Alamo River. This path was selected to avoid the expensive engineering that would otherwise be required if the canal were to traverse the Algodones Dunes.[3]

A small amount of irrigation water was first delivered to the Imperial Valley in 1901, with larger flows becoming available in 1902.[8]

In 1906 work was completed on the permanent concrete headgates at Hanlon Heading.[9]

Creation of the Salton Sea

In 1904 heavy silting greatly reduced the water-carrying capacity of the canal. Imperial Valley farmers, under considerable financial stress, pressured the California Development Company to resolve the problem. Charles Rockwood, faced with bankruptcy and "after mature delibration", directed the engineering of a breach in the bank of the Colorado River approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south of the existing wooden headgates (the Chaffey Gate).[10]

The breach, known as the Lower Mexican Intake, and constructed without headgates and without the permission of the Mexican authorities, allowed the Colorado River to flow unimpeded into the canal, and then to Imperial Valley farms.[3][10][11]

During the subsequent seasonal floods of 1904 through to late 1906, a large amount of the water carried in the Colorado River flowed directly into the Salton Sink. At various times during this period the entirety of the Colorado River was diverted into the canal.[3]

Rockwood's action in ordering the breach was later described as a "blunder so serious as to be practically criminal."[10]

Multiple failed attempts were made to close the diversion and establish a controlled flow via headgates. On January 27, 1907 the flooding was finally stopped after substantial intervention by the Southern Pacific Company.[1][3][12]
....(snip)
A Little Progress
Since about a month ago the drought classification in about 10% of the state has eased from "Extreme" to "Severe".





Maps source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
Northern California lakes filling, waterfalls flowing after rain | 89.3 KPCC

Lake Mendocino in Northern California was near capacity following recent rains, and some California waterfalls are near-peak flow.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Lake Mendocino is at 97 percent storage capacity following last weekend's deluge. Officials say the lake had gained 8,000 acre-feet of water since Friday and had a good chance of surpassing the threshold with continued runoff from recent storms.

California is now entering its fourth year of drought.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley and the Big Basin Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains are flush. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a new lake-record rainbow trout was caught at Los Vaqueros Reservoir and all eight lakes in Marin County are topped out to their brims.
BAD SNOW YEAR: Snowpack in Olympic Mountains is at record low — and authorities are worried about water woes this summer

Although the Olympic Mountains have had plenty of rain this winter, snow is at a record low.

The Olympic Mountain snowpack had melted down by Saturday to 3 percent of average — the lowest in the state — possibly endangering the area's summer water supply and river flows for salmon runs.

The snowpack at Hurricane Ridge was measured Saturday at a mere 7.9 percent of average — 7 inches at the measurement station.

That location's annual average is 88 inches of snow on the ground on Feb. 15, according to data from the Northwest Avalanche Center in Seattle.

The previous record-low snowpack for Feb. 15 was 17 inches in 2005, said Kenny Kramer, director of the avalanche center.

The Dungeness weather station south of Sequim had no snow Thursday. Ordinarily, it would have about 15 inches in mid-February.

“There are going to be some water shortages,” said Scott Pattee, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Mount Vernon.

Link

Not really a drought per se , they have been getting storms , the kicker is the snow line has been mostly above 8,000 feet all winter. And the tallest mountain in the range is Mount Olympus' 7,979 feet,


This has been the case from California up into B.C. all season long. Very little snow has fallen below 8,000 feet. If a mountain is water tower, we're watching the ones on the west coast shrink.
This is a ridiculously out of date "news" report to publish on February 17. Four week old newspapers would have better info! What's with you guys?
Re. #76

At the end of the blog entry right above the box where you typed in Your Comment Christopher Burt wrote:
NOTE: I will be taking a six-week leave of absence, so this will be my last post until around February 20th.

Below that you will find comments updating and related to the blog entry topic and the general blog topic.
No Net Improvement
This week California's Central Coast has reduced its amount of precipitation needed to end drought while California's southern coastal areas have slumped further.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
A Little Relapse
Change in the past week has been a small area in eastern central California dropping from the "Extreme" to the "Exceptional" drought classification.





Maps source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
More fresh news...
Drought likely to get worse, NOAA predicts | 89.3 KPCC
....(snip)
As recently as December, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the entire state of California had at least a one in three chance of above average precipitation this winter.

Well, we still have one month of winter left, and NOAA is walking back that prediction. Between now and the end of May, it's down to a coin flip whether we'll even see average precipitation. And a chunk of Northern California is likely to only get below average rain and snow.
....(snip)
The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge Returns; typical winter conditions still nowhere to be found in California : California Weather Blog
by Daniel Swain on February 16, 2015
....(snip)
The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge has returned…with a twist

Over the past year, I’ve received numerous questions regarding the purported re-appearance of the Triple R. Typically, my answer has been that the Ridge had not returned, since according to its original definition in 2013, the anomalous high pressure needed to persist across multi-month averages to technically qualify. That longevity–that incredible persistence over months–was what made the atmospheric feature so remarkable in the first place.

Well, folks, we’ve now reached that point once again: a distinctly positive geopotential height anomaly is now present in 2-3 month averages across the far northeastern Pacific and West Coast, signaling that the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge has indeed returned.

The overall situation, however, is a bit different this year. While 2013-2014 brought the lowest calendar year and 12-month precipitation on record to the state of California, 2014-2015 is trending quite a bit wetter on a statewide basis. This is particularly true in the north, where some spots are currently hovering right around average for the water year to date. Amazingly, this has occurred despite the fact that some of the same regions in NorCal have been setting records for their driest Januaries/longest mid-winter dry spells. Most of the precipitation that has fallen in NorCal this winter has occurred as the result of the two brief, warm, and intense storm sequences in early December and early February. In fact, in a few spots around the Bay Area, the vast majority of the precipitation so far this winter has occurred over the course of just 3-4 calendar days (!). Together, these data suggest a remarkable temporal concentration (intensification) of precipitation in California this winter.

There is a common cause of the extreme warmth, record-setting precipitation variability, and exceptionally low Sierra Nevada snowpack: the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, Redux. This persistent feature near the West Coast has set up a little further east this year than in preceding winters, allowing the subtropical jet to make occasional incursions along its western flank. As this persistent ridge has wobbled around, conditions have remained very warm during both wet and dry spells. In addition, the Western ridge is forcing Pacific storm systems to take make a sharp poleward turn 1000-2000 miles west of California, advecting copious warm/moist subtropical air toward much higher latitudes in Alaska and British Columbia. Because the ridge is slightly further east this winter, California has been able to benefit very occasionally from this constant northward stream of moisture–meaning that what precipitation has occurred has been of the warm and wet variety.

In this sense, the Triple R of 2014-2015 is notably different from 2013-2014. California has certainly received more precipitation this year on a liquid equivalent basis, though we’re once again falling rapidly behind average as February turns out to be mostly dry. The extreme warmth and low snowpack, however, are very reminiscent of recent winters–as is the occurrence of infrequent but intense warm storms. It’s interesting to note that nearly the entire western United States has been exceptionally warm in recent months, while the eastern part of the country remains locked in a recurring nightmare of extreme Arctic outbreaks and almost inconceivable snow accumulations in parts of New England. This overall setup–with a big Western ridge and a deep Eastern trough–has become known as the “Warm West/Cool East” dipole pattern, and it has been a common feature of recent winters in North America. There are a number of hypotheses currently being investigated regarding the causes of an apparent recent increase in the occurrence of this pattern, though there’s not yet compelling evidence pointing to a singular cause (that’s a topic for a future blog post!).

What is more certain, at least as far as California is concerned, is that our severe long-term drought is unlikely to improve substantially until this newly-invigorated pattern of persistent West Coast high pressure is no longer dominant.
....(snip)
I still believe reforming Lake Cahuilla or extending the Gulf of California to Indio would be the best long term solutions to the drought and water problem in California(Alta & Baja), Arizona, Sonora, and Colorado River Basin in general.

Of the two, extending the Gulf California would do the most good since its evaporated water would feed Colorado River Basin water supply without taking away from it as does Lake Cahuilla.

The billions of dollars generated from not having to cleaning up environmental disaster, increase in the water resources, and increase of property tax revenue would help even build underground reservoirs in L.A., San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas like the ones in Tokyo! The underground reservoirs will in term extend the life of different dams and reservoirs (by lowering dam by dam the water level to allow most cost effective removal of silt that deceases their capacity) in the Colorado River Basin and even restore the Colorado River one day to its original condition by transfer water storage below urban centers. This way we can keep the concrete jungles where they are at and not up and down the nearby and far away rivers!

And yet all these good things are undone because the politicians would be out of job without a problem to fix...
Mountain snow pack is reportedly record low on southern Vancouver Island (scroll past the video at the link).

Link
(I have fixed any image bandwidth problems you may have noticed recently in my previous comments.)

Two Steps Back
This week for the amount of precipitation needed to end drought in California - the Central Coast lost its gains of last week while the southern and central interior sunk deeper into moisture deficit.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
Very Little Drought Improvement
In the past week for just a little over 1% of California there was positive change. The Kern River basin rose from the "Exceptional" to the "Extreme" drought classification.





Maps source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
Quoting 82. FormosanBlackBear:

I still believe reforming Lake Cahuilla or extending the Gulf of California to Indio would be the best long term solutions to the drought and water problem in California(Alta & Baja), Arizona, Sonora, and Colorado River Basin in general.

Of the two, extending the Gulf California would do the most good since its evaporated water would feed Colorado River Basin water supply without taking away from it as does Lake Cahuilla.

The billions of dollars generated from not having to cleaning up environmental disaster, increase in the water resources, and increase of property tax revenue would help even build underground reservoirs in L.A., San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas like the ones in Tokyo! The underground reservoirs will in term extend the life of different dams and reservoirs (by lowering dam by dam the water level to allow most cost effective removal of silt that deceases their capacity) in the Colorado River Basin and even restore the Colorado River one day to its original condition by transfer water storage below urban centers. This way we can keep the concrete jungles where they are at and not up and down the nearby and far away rivers!

And yet all these good things are undone because the politicians would be out of job without a problem to fix...


This is an interesting idea. Palm Springs should be on the waterfront, that's for sure. I'd looked into the Salton Sea as a recreation area but it's past its better days apparently. Most of the Gulf of Cali is not developed and hard to get to. The idea of flooding the desert would definitely be a big change but substituting one biome for another probably wouldn't make it past the first environmental review. It definitely has its advantages though. Are there studies on this?
Nature forms Lake Cahuilla from time to time when all the sediments carry by the Colorado River form a natural dam at the mouth of Colorado River. After Lake Cahuilla forms and the water level reach enough height it spills out to the Gulf of California and slowly erode the natural dam and open up the delta for Colorado river to flow into the gulf again.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Cahuilla

SDSU did a study on the Salton Sea
See http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton/SaltonSeaHomePage.h tml

Sonny Bono and Joseph Widney are just two of many people who would like to see Lake Cahuilla again. But since freshwater Lake using the Colorado River is no longer viable option. Free seawater seems the logical next choice. I would love to see UC Imperial with a Script Institute (UCSD) like department to study the Colorado Delta!

Quoting 86. WyldChyld:



This is an interesting idea. Palm Springs should be on the waterfront, that's for sure. I'd looked into the Salton Sea as a recreation area but it's past its better days apparently. Most of the Gulf of Cali is not developed and hard to get to. The idea of flooding the desert would definitely be a big change but substituting one biome for another probably wouldn't make it past the first environmental review. It definitely has its advantages though. Are there studies on this?



I don't know how the Mexico part of the Gulf of California would be but I believe the new Gulf of California coast in U.S. would definitely resemble the Pacific Coast from LA to San Diego! It will benefit Mexico as well because now they will have three Tijuana like cities instead of one!
For those of you wondering why I haven't blogged for a while.

My contract renewal with WU is still under review. Could be a while yet. In the meantime, thanks for continuing your thread of great comments/discussion... just what makes the WU blog forums so interesting and informative.

Bob Henson is posting great material (to which I am making some minor contributions in the meantime) re: current events such as the mistaken -25 Flint 'all-time' cold record reported on Feb. 20. Actually, the correct figure for Flint's all-time cold record is -28 on Feb. 14, 1916.

Just a heads up about how NOW data doesn't actually reflect the USWB record database (the printed versions published by the USWB, not the digital NOW/NCDC versions)--this is a fairly serious issue from my perspective (as a weather historian) for obvious reasons.

If I ever have the opportunity to blog again in this forum, this is specifically an issue I will bring to task!

Hope to be back in the loop soon.
Quoting 87. FormosanBlackBear:

Nature forms Lake Cahuilla from time to time when all the sediments carry by the Colorado River form a natural dam at the mouth of Colorado River. After Lake Cahuilla forms and the water level reach enough height it spills out to the Gulf of California and slowly erode the natural dam and open up the delta for Colorado river to flow into the gulf again.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Cahuilla

SDSU did a study on the Salton Sea
See http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton/SaltonSeaHomePage.h tml



Thanks for the links. One thing that I wasn't sure about was the idea that saltwater can replenish aquifers. There are plenty of examples where it's just intruding and salinating the aquifer like in Mexico.
When Salton sea drys up you are going to have toxic dust (fertilizer & pesticide from Mexico and USA side both) ruining Palm Springs and LA. I would not be surprised if all but the most hardy people would develop lung cancer from inhaling the toxic dust. Lake Water and water table Salinity is going to be the least of concern as I mentioned in the previous posts drawing comparison to the Mediterranean Sea...

Once the news gets out that Imperial and Riverside County was the source of the toxic dust, you can watch the real estate price drop down to next to nothing. Some foolish people will think, well, we still have agriculture. If Imperial Valley is known for pollution that is carcinogenic, the "grown in California/USA" image will be ruined. Not only Imperial but Riverside County as well as all California Agriculture industry will suffer. The Snow Birds from NorCal, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Canada will leave in droves. (At least snow is not carcinogenic) El Centro, Mexicali, Yuma, San Luis will probably become ghost towns as the proximity to the source of toxic dust will equally ruin Arizona, Baja California, and Sonora Agriculture. I take no joy in a regional ruin just so a man made desert can return, thought I suspect some do. It is much easier to cause dissent than work together. Meanwhile, Lake Cahuilla or Gulf of California will never return to Colorado River Basin, which the Imperial Valley is a part of, as nature originally allowed.

That is why in the previous posts I mention flooding over 4 decades by filling 70 feet per decade. Slowly but surely moving the farm lands closer to and upstream of Colorado River and plan the future infrastructures carefully to give the landowners, including the original tribes, and the farmers real estates(with property tax) or Boat Houses(without property tax) as part of the compensation for moving. By informing the farmers of the long term cost to them just to secure minimum short term gain, I am sure they will agree that it is time to change the status quo.

BTW, everything flows into the Salton Sea, you really don't need to worry about the Salt getting out to the surrounding area. Just take a look at Google Map satellite of the farm fields at the southern end of Salton Sea.

Quoting 91. WyldChyld:



Thanks for the links. One thing that I wasn't sure about was the idea that saltwater can replenish aquifers. There are plenty of examples where it's just intruding and salinating the aquifer like in Mexico.
I hope you stay with us Mr. Burt!

Some subtly extreme weather in the mid-Atlantic last week.

Pressure at NYC on Feb 28th 30.83" (1043.4 mb)

Pressure at Philadelphia 30.86" (1045.0 mb)

Pressure at Atlantic City 30.83" (1044.1 mb)

Pressure at Wilmington, DE
30.86" (1045.1 mb)

Pressure at Washington DC 30.88" (1045.5 mb)

Pressure at Richmond, VA 30.85" (1045.4 mb)

Pressure at Norfolk, VA 30.83" (1043.8 mb)

Last and definitely most

Pressure at Baltimore, MD 30.93" (1047.3 mb)
Sunshine doesn't thaw if temperature is below freezing. It only form a harden ice surface on top of the snow.

D.C. still have not dig out from the snow yet, (Only some of the roads are snow/ice free] snow banks are still there. I doubt Baltimore is any better! It's going to take a few more days of sunshine to thaw the snow. Unfortunately, it probably not going happen this week, more ice and freezing rain next couple days...

Quoting 93. BaltimoreBrian:

I hope you stay with us Mr. Burt!

Some subtly extreme weather in the mid-Atlantic last week.

Pressure at NYC on Feb 28th 30.83" (1043.4 mb)

Pressure at Philadelphia 30.86" (1045.0 mb)

Pressure at Atlantic City 30.83" (1044.1 mb)

Pressure at Wilmington, DE
30.86" (1045.1 mb)

Pressure at Washington DC 30.88" (1045.5 mb)

Pressure at Richmond, VA 30.85" (1045.4 mb)

Pressure at Norfolk, VA 30.83" (1043.8 mb)

Last and definitely most

Pressure at Baltimore, MD 30.93" (1047.3 mb)
Long time purveyor of Wunderground here since about '96 or so. Love your blog, it brings out the climate junkie in everyone. I can't imagine Wunderground without your blog. Your blog was relatively free of self-proclaimed seasoned forecasters condescending to young enthusiasts, the constant bickering over details and constant "I told you so"s and global warming cut-and-paste information wars that makes up most discussions on Wunderground. We love you, I'm you're number one fan, etc. etc. I hope you stay. :)
Christopher, your blog gives context all of Weather Undergound with the boundaries of climate and weather on Earth as we know it. I hope your blog is renewed for many more seasons. (Yes, it was intended.)
Mostly Improvement, More Needed and in Other Areas, Time Running Short

In California this week we leave what is normally the fattest part of the precipitation season. In relation to precipitation needed to end drought the eastern deserts, southern coastal regions and the southern Central Valley all made some improvement. The northern Central Valley declined.

Snow in the Sierra Nevada would be the most beneficial for the coming drier months but the window for snow is growing ever smaller.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
(BTW if anyone knows of an archive by date of the above map I would be grateful for a link.)
BTW, there were no changes in the California drought categories map last week.





Maps source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
This week In all California areas there are no changes in precipitation needed to end drought.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
(BTW if anyone knows of an archive by date of the above map I would be grateful for a link.)
Quoting 94. FormosanBlackBear:

Sunshine doesn't thaw if temperature is below freezing. It only form a harden ice surface on top of the snow.

D.C. still have not dig out from the snow yet, (Only some of the roads are snow/ice free] snow banks are still there. I doubt Baltimore is any better! It's going to take a few more days of sunshine to thaw the snow. Unfortunately, it probably not going happen this week, more ice and freezing rain next couple days...




We're thawed out in DC now and most of the snow is gone. The soils are still absolutely sodden. No working in
the garden yet this spring.

I remember thinking, about four weeks ago "ya know with that kind of ridging in the west I'm surprised we're not
colder in the East"

I'm not wondering about that any more!
There has been almost no change in the California drought categories map for two weeks despite this normally still being the "fat" part of the precipitation season.

In the past week the area classified in "Moderate Drought" condition increased by .01%.





Maps source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
This week In California all of the Central Valley, northern and southern, and the northern coast sunk further into deficits of precipitation needed to end drought.

While South Florida looks forward to their rain season with anticipation California looks back on theirs with on theirs with disappointment.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
(BTW if anyone knows of an archive by date of the above map I would be grateful for a link.)
I wonder if anyone has examined the role of the dramatically increased heat signatures of the large coastal metro regions of SF, LA, and SD due to paving over land, deforestation, fossil fuel-burning autos, and heat from energy production and manufacturing in creating these prolonged high pressure anomalies? It seems to me that someone ought to research whether there is an impact by large metro areas on weather patterns.
Quoting 105. daniellord:

I wonder if anyone has examined the role of the dramatically increased heat signatures of the large coastal metro regions of SF, LA, and SD due to paving over land, deforestation, fossil fuel-burning autos, and heat from energy production and manufacturing in creating these prolonged high pressure anomalies? It seems to me that someone ought to research whether there is an impact by large metro areas on weather patterns.

Interesting question. Maybe there's something at
Welcome | Heat Island Group | heatisland.lbl.gov.
There has been no change in the past week and virtually no change in the past three weeks in the California drought intensity categories map.



Map source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pngs/current/c urrent_ca_trd.png
From Bakersfield~35N to the boarder with Mexico ~32N is within Horse Latitudes. See wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_latitudes.

High pressure ridges are air circulating down, increase temperature would actually mean air would arise and weaken the High Pressure system. Although it would be hard to imagine it having the same magnitude of effect of a major volcano eruption.

Quoting 105. daniellord:

I wonder if anyone has examined the role of the dramatically increased heat signatures of the large coastal metro regions of SF, LA, and SD due to paving over land, deforestation, fossil fuel-burning autos, and heat from energy production and manufacturing in creating these prolonged high pressure anomalies? It seems to me that someone ought to research whether there is an impact by large metro areas on weather patterns.
Hemet-area water agencies boosting prices amid drought | 89.3 KPCC

It's going to cost more to take a shower in Hemet.

Water agencies serving customers in and around the Riverside County city are pushing up water rates amid an ongoing drought.

....(snip)
This week In California the central coast and southern interior sunk further into deficits of precipitation needed to end drought.



Maps source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_mo nitoring/regional_monitoring/addpcp.gif
(BTW if anyone knows of an archive by date of the above map I would be grateful for a link.)
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