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Bob Henson • January 13, 2014 | The first precipitation measurements in what’s now downtown San Francisco began in July 1849, a year before statehood. Now extending almost 165 years, the local rainfall database is one of the nation’s longest—and never has it shown a year as dry as 2013.

 

From the Mexican border to the Pacific Northwest, the past 12 months have left records lying in the dust. It’s been the most parched calendar year in the weather annals of two state capitals (Salem, OR, and Sacramento, CA) as well as Los Angeles and other locations in between. The table below shows how far the new records dipped not only below average but below the prior records.

 

http://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/opinion/10879/california-dryin

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

 

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2611">Read

Edited by knocker

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The worst since 2008 then, that does sound bad.Californian climate is characterised by long dry spells and very wet spells, it will be related to ocean cycles I expect.Not unlike Australia.

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The worst since 2008 then, that does sound bad.Californian climate is characterised by long dry spells and very wet spells, it will be related to ocean cycles I expect.Not unlike Australia.

 

I'm now totally convinced we are not on the same planet having read that. Any particular reason why you selected this prior to a short woffle

 

 

PDSI for the first three months of the water year, October - December, 2013 ranks as the third worst such drought, behind 1898 and 2008.

 

And ignored such as this?

 

 

The record January heat has been accompanied by record dryness. California recorded its driest year in its history during 2013.

 

Plus I refer you to the first post in the thread. To finish, "it will be related to ocean cycles I expect" is a truly stunning scientific analysis given that most expert meteorologists and climatologists have yet to come to any definitive conclusions as to the reason to my knowledge.

 

EDIT

 

This is a completely unnecessary comment "The worst since 2008 then, that does sound bad".

Edited by knocker
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Has it been dry then?California is noted for being dry, there have been many droughts in the short time since it was settled - and far worse before that no doubt.

Now it has a huge aspirational population who want to water their lawns, fill their pools and have the washer on daily.

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Has it been dry then?California is noted for being dry, there have been many droughts in the short time since it was settled - and far worse before that no doubt.

Now it has a huge aspirational population who want to water their lawns, fill their pools and have the washer on daily.

 

 

Has it been dry then?

 

Not really. The first precipitation measurements in what’s now downtown San Francisco began in July 1849, a year before statehood. Now extending almost 165 years, the local rainfall database is one of the nation’s longest—and never has it shown a year as dry as 2013.

 

 

Now it has a huge aspirational population who want to water their lawns, fill their pools and have the washer on daily.

 

 

Very true. And that affects rainfall and snowfall how?

 

It's seems very odd to me, it doesn't really, why you should be determined to minimize the severity  of the drought.

Edited by knocker
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Making it a global faux climate change story.

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Making it a global faux climate change story.

 

Rubbish. Climate change hasn't been mentioned and that's precisely why I put the thread in this section. I know of no direct link to climate change. You should try and get a grip instead of obsessing and living in some fantasy world.

 

You have turned this into a completely unnecessary argument which is not the purpose of this thread because of your own particular hang ups.

Edited by knocker
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4wd, this thread is in the extreme weather part of the forum, it's only you trying to twist it into something else - we all know by now what your views are on climate change, there really is no need to use every opportunity you can find to share them.

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California suffering extreme drought following driest year on record
 
Last Friday, the California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency across the state, following its driest year on record. As a result, 62.7 per cent of the state is now in extreme drought and 89.9 percent in severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. During 2013, California had just 32.8 per cent of the rainfall that it would normally expect to see, leaving fresh water reservoirs with a fraction of their normal reserves.
 
Posted Image
Also the normally full American River has slowed so dramatically that brush and dry riverbed are showing through in areas normally teeming with fish. Such a dry year has also left the state prone to wildfires, as high temperatures and lightning strikes result in wildfires that are then fanned by dry, gusty Santa Ana winds that the state is renowned for.
 
Why has it been so dry?
 
California relies on rain and mountain snow moving in off the Pacific Ocean, driven by the jet stream – the fast-moving ribbon of air five miles up in the sky that forms and steers areas of low pressure. California suffering extreme drought following driest year on recordHowever, during the last year – especially during autumn and early winter – the jet stream has been persistently stuck much further north than usual, resulting in a blocking area of high pressure forming over the state. This has kept the weather largely dry, as the usual train of low pressure systems travelled further northwards into western Canada, taking the rain and snow there.
 
Late-autumn and winter are when California would expect to receive the greatest portion of its annual rainfall. Snowfall across the mountains also plays a huge role in California’s water resources because it builds up in the winter, then provides a steady supply of water for the reservoirs as it melts during the spring. The persistent dry weather has meant that there has been little snowfall across the mountainous parts of the state so far this winter.
 
The NOAA satellite image below comparing 13 January 2013 to the same day this year shows a huge difference in snow cover.
Posted Image
Snow cover for the state as of the 16 January 2014 was just 17 per cent of the average. This means that unless there’s a rapid change to wetter conditions, there will be little snowmelt to top up the reservoirs in spring.
 
Reservoirs worryingly low
 
Major reservoirs across California are already significantly below normal, with the largest reservoir in the state, Lake Shasta, 36 per cent full, compared to the average of 55 per cent. Further south, Folsom Lake is just 17 per cent full, when it would normally be 34 per cent full at this time of year.
 
Any sign of rain?
 
The latest forecast for the next 7-10 days doesn’t offer much hope for much needed rainfall in the parched state. With the jet stream still likely to be stuck further north, the blocking area of high pressure will persist, offering very little, if any rainfall at all. Appeals are already being made for Californians to conserve water by aiming to reduce consumption by 20 per cent, with warnings that mandatory restrictions may lie ahead.
 
Whilst the immediate future looks bleak, as we know from the drought concerns that we had in the UK early in 2012, the weather pattern can suddenly flip, so that when it does eventually rain, it can pour.

 

 

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Bob Henson • January 13, 2014 | The first precipitation measurements in what’s now downtown San Francisco began in July 1849, a year before statehood. Now extending almost 165 years, the local rainfall database is one of the nation’s longest—and never has it shown a year as dry as 2013.

 

From the Mexican border to the Pacific Northwest, the past 12 months have left records lying in the dust. It’s been the most parched calendar year in the weather annals of two state capitals (Salem, OR, and Sacramento, CA) as well as Los Angeles and other locations in between. The table below shows how far the new records dipped not only below average but below the prior records.

 

http://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/opinion/10879/california-dryin

 

Those rainfall deficiencies for 2013 are stunning. 'Off the charts' would be an appropriate term to use... 

 

In Los Angeles, wildcats are moving into the suburbs for water and dieting on pet dogs... http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/mountain-lions-loose-los-angeles-21586390

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about time the value of water was learnt from Los Angeles to Las Vegas ..

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The worst since 2008 then, that does sound bad.Californian climate is characterised by long dry spells and very wet spells, it will be related to ocean cycles I expect.Not unlike Australia.

 

Australia's problems are less. Most of the population is on the east coast, which has climatologically much wetter summers than California, though as you say it is dependent on the ENSO cycle. It also has a smaller population than California.

 

This Californian drought is deeply concerning. It might take until April or May, when the chance of rains are over, before it hits home properly. 

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No rain or snow fell anywhere in California over the past week, prompting no change to the drought rankings for the state in today's U.S. Drought Monitor update. California's area experiencing extreme drought remained at 63%, making it one of the three worst winter droughts in state history. To break the drought, most of the state needs more than 12" of precipitation, and most of the southern half of the state needs more than a year of rainfall to fall in one month. On Wednesday, the San Francisco Bay area experienced its 10th consecutive day of record highs, with Oakland, Mountain View, Jan Jose, and Gilroy all hitting record highs of 72° - 75°. According to the National Weather Service, since December 23, record highs have been reported in the Bay Area a remarkable 22 out of 32 days.

 

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html

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Just 3.6 inches of rain for Los Angeles in 2013 - here we've had more than 3x that just this month. If only there was a way to send some over, think we've all got more than enough to spare (as I type it's pouring down!).

 

Just a freakish event you'd expect one in a blue moon or suggestive of a larger scale shift in weather patterns? I know there have been studies suggesting the jetstream over the N. Hemisphere has become more meandering, explaining some of the extreme weather we've seen in the British Isles/Europe in recent years, might be linked to that perhaps?

Edited by Bobby

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Amazingly in California, despite the severe drought situation, there are no restrictions on water use — everyone is carrying on as normal!

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Which is the tail and which is the dog?

 

That HP has been around for 18 months now has it not? Surely the settled conditions have allowed for surface warming of the ocean there? They have certainly impacted Alaska!

 

What the west coast needs is a decent El Nino event to top up there water supplies and allow for some respite from the constant Nina conditions they've suffered?

 

As for Four trying to link the event to 'climate change'? Is it not the 'natural cycles' that have conspired to drive this event? I know the 'warming' that we have seen over the past century must show impact but surely the 'natural' is a stronger driver at this point?

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California’s Devastating Drought Isn’t Going to Get Better Any Time Soon

 

The epic California drought isn’t through breaking records. Worse yet, it’s still intensifying. Don’t taunt this thing—it’s a mean one.

On Thursday, the National Drought Mitigation Center upgraded about 9 percent of the state to an “exceptional drought,†the organization’s most intense level of drought severity. It’s the first time that any part of California has registered an exceptional drought in the 14-year history of the NDMC drought monitor.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/01/30/california_s_exceptional_drought_won_t_get_better_any_time_soon.html

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A good chunk of Nevada also in extreme drought and bits elsewhere in other US states. 

 

Posted Image

 

Also worth mentioning it has been an unusual dry Autumn/Winter in the Pacific north west, been very dry in Seattle with just bits of rain, they usually have Winters like what we have experienced this Winter. The chance of proper Pacific pressure systems moving back in from 8th Feb which should bring relief with those rain spikes at the bottom of the graph below. A bit more scatter for San Francisco but non the less the biggest chance I've seen so far this Winter of more appreciable rain. But unfortunately rain not as likely for Los Angeles.

 

Posted Image

 

Posted Image

 

Posted Image

Edited by Gaz1985
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I don't know if this has been posted already, but on Wunderground there was a very comprehensive and extensive post from Jeff Masters concerning the Californian drought occuring at the moment.

 

The link can be found below:

 

http://dutch.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2624

 

Forecast in medium term

 

The synoptics in California do seem to be improving some, with a trough forecast to develop by the GFS over central California at T180:

 

Posted Image

 

 

GFS SLP + 500 hPa heights T180 (12Z)

 

Note the trough (500 hPa, green to light-blue colors) and surface low (isobars) over the eastern end of California. The forecasted precipitation associated with the trough and surface low is too far to the east to bring relief for the worst-hit areas, as seen in the chart below and the drought monitor chart from Gaz1985 above:

 

Posted Image
GFS precipitation chart T180 (12Z)

 

Unfortunately, the 6-10 day outlook doesn't agree with the GFS, as it forecasts a high chance of below-median rainfall over the area around California.

:

Posted Image

 

NOAA 6-10 day precipitation anomalies outlook

 

The 8-14 precipitation outlook from NOAA is even worse, giving an even higher chance of below-median precipitation over California.

 

Posted Image

NOAA 8-14 day precipitation anomalies outlook

 

Long-range outlook

 

The seasonal forecast from the NOAA indicates a pronounced signal for continued dry conditions in California in the 1.5 month period. Therefore, there seems to be no end in sight yet for the dry conditions to stop. 

 

Posted Image

NOAA 1.5 month precipitation anomalies outlook. The brown colors indicate an above-median risk on below-average rainfall.

 

Concluding, though the GFS shows a slight relief from the drought, the main signal points toward no improvement in the situation in California in the medium- to long-range outlook. This could also lead to an increased risk of forest fires in the long term, if the dry conditions tend to persist throughout the spring.

 

 

Sources:

http://dutch.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2624

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/610day/

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/topkarten/fsfaxsem.html

Edited by Vorticity0123
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