Yesterday, my local reservoir, Lake Oroville, made the front page of Drudge. The photo below shows the Highway 162 suspension bridge and the Bidwell Marina, which is almost in the center of the lake now. The last time I was there at this very spot in September, boat launch ramps were still operable. From what I hear now, they are past the asphalt and down to mud for anyone that dares to try.
Below are two photos from the NASA MODIS imaging system that show California from the Los Angeles area north to the Oregon border. One if from January 13th, 2013, and the other is from January 14th, 2014.
The lack of snowpack in the northern Sierra Nevada is quite significant and the visual difference between years is stunning.
On Thursday, I was on Shasta Lake north of Redding, CA and took this photo of the Interstate 5 bridge crossing the reservoir. While you can’t see it in this photo, there still is water under the bridge. Shasta is the largest reservoir in California, and is down from its historical average by nearly half.
Of course, this is hardly new, low water levels have been seen on this lake before, such as in September 2005:
What is new is that the lake level is so low in winter, there’s no appreciable inflow, it continues to drop, AND there’s little snow-pack to replenish it.The US drought monitor shows the current situation:
Plus, California population has increased dramatically while water storage has not. That’s a testament to poor planning and the hands of environmentalists and their campaigns to stop new water storage systems. Some are saying this drought is in “uncharted territory”.
“Uncharted territory” has been a phrase spoken by many during recent water conversations. The population in California has doubled since 1977, many more permanent crops have been planted and more refuges established.
And the cause of this? Certainly not “global warming” though I’m sure the activist idiots will use every trick in the book to try to create a linkage. The cause is a the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and a weak to neutral and persistent La Niña pattern that some are calling “La Nada”. Bob Tisdale has a good summary on the PDO situation and how it is also related to “the pause” in global warming. The ocean rules the climate system.
In the graph below, you can see that pattern has been in place since the strong La Niña of 2010. In 1997/98 when the huge El Niño occurred, California had so much water that dams were full and fears of flooding abounded. You can also see the long stretch of drought in the mid to late 1970’s reflected in this graph.
Yesterday, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency, which is probably a bit too late. He held up this graph showing precipitation by water year. In California, a water year is from July 1st to June 30th.
Here’s the source of data for that graph, showing that Governor Brown’s graph doesn’t quite tell the entire story since the peaks are muted and only the filtered values are used. His graph also only goes back to 1970. The next closest dry year was 1898, so the idea that this is “uncharted territory” for California is an accurate statement.
Here is the PR from the Governor’s office yesterday:
SAN FRANCISCO – With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The Governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign (details at saveourh2o.org).
In addition, the proclamation gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply throughout California under drought conditions.
State water officials say that California’s river and reservoirs are below their record lows. Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20 percent of normal average for this time of year.
The Governor’s drought State of Emergency follows a series of actions the administration has taken to ensure that California is prepared for record dry conditions. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights. In December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations, California’s preparedness for water scarcity and whether conditions merit a drought declaration. Earlier this week, the Governor toured the Central Valley and spoke with growers and others impacted by California’s record dry conditions.
And what is on the horizon? Hopefully an El Niño, which will also get blamed on/connected to “global warming”. if the Nino 3.4 model ensemble is to be believed, then California will likely see a strong precipitation rebound in 2014/2015.
From the WUWT ENSO Reference Page:
UPDATE: This stament from NOAA is relevant. (h/t to Roger Pielke Sr.)
DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN DIEGO CA 800 PM PDT FRI JAN 17 2014 ...GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN DECLARES A DROUGHT STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR CALIFORNIA ON JANUARY 17TH 2014... ...THE USDA HAS DECLARED A DROUGHT DESIGNATION FOR SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY FOR 2014 FOR ELIGIBLE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS... ...EXTREME DROUGHT CONDITIONS DEVELOPING OVER PORTIONS OF SOUTHWESTERN CALIFORNIA... SYNOPSIS... PORTIONS OF SOUTHWESTERN CALIFORNIA HAVE EXPERIENCED TWO BELOW AVERAGE RAINFALL SEASONS RESULTING IN A REDUCTION IN RESERVOIR AND GROUNDWATER LEVELS IN SOME AREAS. THE MUCH DRIER THAN USUAL VEGETATION FOR MID-WINTER HAS CONTRIBUTED TO A HEIGHTENED WILDFIRE CONCERN. THESE CONDITIONS WERE ELEVATED TO AN EXTREME DROUGHT DEPICTION (D3) ON THE U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR MAPS WITHIN ORANGE COUNTY IN MID JANUARY 2014. THE U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR CLASSIFIES DROUGHT INTO FIVE CATEGORIES OF INCREASING SEVERITY: ABNORMALLY DRY (D0)...MODERATE DROUGHT (D1)...SEVERE DROUGHT (D2)...EXTREME DROUGHT (D3)...AND EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT (D4). PLEASE NOTE THAT NEITHER NOAA NOR THE NWS DECLARES DROUGHTS. DROUGHTS IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA ARE DECLARED BY THE GOVERNOR THROUGH THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES AND THE STATE CLIMATOLOGIST. HOWEVER...LOCAL OFFICIALS CAN DECLARE LOCAL DROUGHT OR WATER EMERGENCIES AT TIMES WHEN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA HAS NOT DECLARED AN OFFICIAL DROUGHT. LOCAL WATER PURVEYORS CAN ALSO IMPLEMENT VOLUNTARY OR MANDATORY RESTRICTIONS ON WATER USAGE IN RESPONSE TO CURRENT OR FORECAST WATER SUPPLY CONDITIONS REGARDLESS OF DROUGHT DECLARATIONS. THIS DROUGHT STATEMENT PROVIDES A SUMMARY OF PERTINENT INFORMATION TO ENHANCE PUBLIC AWARENESS OF DROUGHT OR ABNORMALLY DRY CONDITIONS. SUMMARY OF IMPACTS... AT THIS TIME...IMPACTS HAVE BEEN LIMITED IN EXTREME SOUTHWESTERN PORTIONS OF THE STATE DUE TO THE AVAILABILITY OF IMPORTED WATER. HOWEVER...THE LACK OF PRECIPITATION HAS ALLOWED VEGETATION TO DRY TO CRITICAL LEVELS IN MANY AREAS...INCREASING THE POTENTIAL FOR WILDFIRES. THE WARM AND DRY WEATHER HAS ALSO REDUCED THE AVAILABILITY OF RANGE LAND GRASSES FOR LIVESTOCK. WHERE LOCAL WELLS ARE FED BY RAINFALL AND LOCAL RUNOFF...SOME SHALLOW WELLS MAY BE GOING DRY OR HAVE ALREADY DRIED UP. IN ADDITION...THE LACK OF RAINFALL AND RUNOFF THIS WINTER HAS LOWERED THE FLOW IN THE SAN DIEGO RIVER...RESULTING IN STRESSES ON THE VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE. CLIMATE SUMMARY... ORANGE COUNTY HAS BEEN ONE OF THE DRIEST AREAS IN OUR REGION OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. WESTERN REGION CLIMATE CENTER RECORDS FROM THE SANTA ANA FIRE STATION INDICATE 2013 WAS THE THIRD DRIEST...AND THE THREE YEAR PERIOD ENDING DECEMBER 2013 WAS THE FIFTH DRIEST. RAINS HAVE BEEN MORE GENEROUS FARTHER SOUTH IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY WHERE LINDBERGH FIELD LOGS BOTH 2013 AND THE THREE YEAR PERIOD 2010-2013 AS ONLY THE 20TH DRIEST ON RECORD. A WELL-DEVELOPED MONSOON IN LATE SUMMER HELPED TO RAISE SEASONAL RAINFALL IN THE MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS. PRECIPITATION SUMMARY FOR SELECTED CITIES... DECEMBER 2013 SINCE JULY 1 2013 REPORTED % OF NORMAL REPORTED % OF NORMAL NEWPORT BEACH 0.31 17% 0.69 20% TUSTIN 0.98 41% 1.91 41% IDYLLWILD 1.47 40% 7.77 80% RIVERSIDE 0.16 10% 1.15 36% PALM SPRINGS TRACE 0% 1.26 45% BIG BEAR LAKE 1.02 33% 5.50 70% REDLANDS 0.16 10% 2.54 61% EL MIRAGE 0.03 4% 2.14 101% BORREGO SPRINGS 0.00 0% 4.35 168% CAMPO 0.78 34% 5.57 100% LAKE CUYAMACA 1.71 35% 11.88 99% LINDBERGH FIELD 0.46 30% 2.24 68% PRECIPITATION/TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK... LITTLE IF ANY PRECIPITATION IS FORECAST FOR THE REMAINDER OF JANUARY WITH THE LATEST AVAILABLE GLOBAL MODELS HOLDING A STRONG RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE WEST COAST. THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER OUTLOOK FOR FEBRUARY IS INDICATING A BETTER THAN 70% CHANCE OF CONTINUED DRIER AND WARMER THAN AVERAGE WEATHER. HYDROLOGIC SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK... WITH NO WIDESPREAD PRECIPITATION IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE...NO SIGNIFICANT INCREASES CAN BE EXPECTED IN AREA RIVERS AND RESERVOIRS. THE LATEST U.S. SEASONAL DROUGHT OUTLOOK CALLS FOR DROUGHT CONDITIONS TO PERSIST OR INTENSIFY THROUGH MARCH 2014. NEXT SCHEDULED ISSUANCE DATE... THE NEXT SCHEDULED DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT WILL BE ISSUED BY FEBRUARY 17TH...OR SOONER IF NECESSARY...IN RESPONSE TO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN CONDITIONS. && RELATED WEBSITES... GOVERNORS EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION: WWW.GOV.CA.GOV/NEWS.PHP?ID18368. CALIFORNIA DATA EXCHANGE CENTER: CDEC.WATER.CA.GOV/ CALIFORNIA NEVADA RIVER FORECAST CENTER: WWW.CNRFC.NOAA.GOV/ DROUGHT MONITOR: DROUGHTMONITOR.UNL.EDU U.S. DROUGHT PORTAL: HTTP://WWW.DROUGHT.GOV/DROUGHT/ CALIFORNIA DROUGHT PAGE: WATERSUPPLYCONDITIONS.WATER.CA.GOV/ CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER: WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN DIEGO: WWW.WRH.NOAA.GOV/SGX/ ACKNOWLEDGMENTS... CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER DROUGHT MONITOR NATIONAL INTEGRATED DROUGHT INFORMATION SYSTEM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LOS ANGELES/OXNARD CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES CALIFORNIA STATE CLIMATOLOGIST US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SOUTHERN DISTRICT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS...PLEASE REFER ALL QUESTIONS TO W-SGX.WEBMASTER@NOAA.GOV. && JAD