Drought buster? Up to 10 feet of snow this week for California’s Sierra Nevada

Here is some good news for drought-stricken California; the latest forecast model output from WeatherBell suggests that the Sierra Nevada snow-pack will get a fresh dump of up to 10 feet of snow. The Sierra snow-pack has already been reported as above normal (at 136 percent of normal) in the most recent snow survey conducted by the California Department of Water Resources.

DWR Director Mark Cowin said the heavy snowfall so far during Water Year 2016 “has been a reasonable start, but another three or four months of surveys will indicate whether the snowpack’s runoff will be sufficient to replenish California’s reservoirs by this summer.”

Each water year begins on October 1 and ends on the following September 30. DWR conducts five media-oriented snow surveys in the Sierra Nevada each winter – near the first of January, February, March, April and May – at the Phillips Station plot (elevation 6,800 feet) just off Highway 50 near Sierra-at-Tahoe Road 90 miles east of Sacramento. Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, said more than four years of drought have left a water deficit around the state that may be difficult to overcome in just one winter season.

“Clearly, this is much better that it was last year at this time, but we haven’t had the full effect of the El Niño yet,” Gehrke said. “If we believe the forecasts, then El Niño is supposed to kick in as we move through the rest of the winter. That will be critical when it comes to looking at reservoir storage.” The state’s largest six reservoirs currently hold between 22 percent (New Melones) and 53 percent (Don Pedro) of their historical averages in late December. Storage in Lake Shasta, California’s largest surface reservoir, is 51 percent of its December 30 average. [The December 30th]  manual survey found a snow depth of 54.7 inches – 16 inches more than the average depth measured there since 1965 – and 16.3 inches of water content, 136 percent of the January 1 average for that site.

This forecast is to be expected, thanks to an El Niño pattern this winter which has already brought much needed precipitation to California. Storms are already stacked up in an west-to-east line as indicated by this satellite image:

sat_pacific_storm_track

 

This series of Pacific storms will bring more significant rain and heavy mountain snows starting today, not just to California, but much of the west:

fcmaptrav_nat_640x480

The latest GFS forecast model has snowfall totals racking up to 10 feet over the next 10 days, and widespread amounts over 4 feet elsewhere in the Sierra and Siskiyou mountain ranges:

gfs_6hr_snow_acc_norcal_41-768x576

GFS model graphic courtesy of Weatherbell.com

On top of that, there is more good news. The months ahead (January-March) are usually the busiest winter storm period for the West Coast. This graphics based on the fall forecast from NOAA might need to be upgraded a bit:

CA-2016-rain-el-nino

I can remember El Niño years where we have been in a drought situation and a “March miracle” occurred, literally filling reservoirs in a space of a week. That might be possible again with this good head start.

Of course, whether it is good news or bad news for California’s water year, I’m sure “climate change” will get the blame.

It is instructive to keep in mind that decades-to-century scale droughts have been part of California’s landscape (see below) long before “global warming” was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye.

California_drought_timeline

120 thoughts on “Drought buster? Up to 10 feet of snow this week for California’s Sierra Nevada

  1. El Ninos tend to bring drought on our side of the ditch (E Australia), but right now we’re getting good rain too. Long may it last. Once you’ve been through a serious drought, you never complain about rain again!

  2. The California rain/snow pattern does not stop for 16 days going out in the GFS model. Big system every couple of days.

    2 to 5 inches of precip across all of California over the next 10 days.

  3. To much “good news” will be blamed on “extreme weather”. One little washout due to heavy rain and CNN will have 24-7 coverage, can’t win.

  4. I’d be reluctant to call a one year change in a state that has multi-year dependency on its reservoirs a drought buster. How about drought relief? I expect California to resume what may be a multi-decade drought after El Nino fades.

    • Yes, Ric Werme, you are right. Let us not attach any importance to this except, of course, be very happy and relieved for this year’s precipitation. If History is any guide (and I believe it is) the drought period will continue for another 100 – 200 years like during the medieval warm period. But – and that IS a big but – we really know nothing about what our climate will do to California in our life time.

      • In fact if we do get an extensively wet winter, it will also get the nearsighted green California govt off the hook for another year for their lack of storage expansion. Business as usual

    • So … Crisis averted and back to sun beams and high speed rail as the most urgent needs for the state’s attention?

    • when you see paleoclimatology California had actually it’s wettest century of the last 1200 years. so expect it to be drier if we go to a modern optimum. that would be “normal californian climate”

  5. Good for California. But with the coming La Niña, it may just be postponing the inevitable dry spell to follow. And if we do go into a global colder cycle, the overall trend might be drier still.

    My guess is if the snow and rain do fall and the reservoirs refill, it will be business as usual in La La land next year regardless of what the future will bring. We really don’t do a very good job of planning (the right way) in this country so in 2019 it will be 2015 all over again only this time no El Niño to replenish the spigots.

    • You nailed it, rbabcock. Two years ago we passed a water bond for $7 billion. In the small print (not obvious unless you read the bill, which few did) was $2B for new dams, $1B for dismantling existing dams, lots of money for studies, and money for disadvantaged communities (illegals). Net storage gain: zero.

      • The Sierra drought-buster winter of 2010-2011 has been classified a moderate La Niña. So don’t assume a dry one is on the horizon.

    • You are right in how short sighted the government is and so are many Angelenos. I’m a sixth generation Californian and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, just north of Yosemite. This summer, for the first time in my memory (and i’m over 60), several families in our neighborhood, including mine, had to get their wells dug deeper or else have new wells drilled. The fact that 10 families ALL had to do this in a single summer is without precedent.
      We survived in our rural neighborhood for 150 years on an underground spring. It is gone. The county planners in their wisdom approved hundreds of new houses nearby in the past fifteen years, all using well water, all tapping that spring. Our neighborhood for those 150 years consisted of about 50 widely separated houses. Now there are about 500.
      I cite that as one tiny example of the problem in California. So long as more and more housing developments are built, more water will be used. (And unfortunately many newcomers to our state have no conception of water conservation.) These two things are intimately related, yet the media and the government treat them as if they have nothing to do with each other.
      Tens of millions of people with little relation to or understanding of the problem of water use live in greater Los Angeles. Only in the past few years has there come to be a widespread concern in the southern part of the state about water. In 2005, when i worked there during a hot summer, i was appalled to see people all over the San Gabriel Valley watering their lawns twice a day. Swimming pools (which the majority of houses have) had to be refilled once a week due to evaporation; “refilled” meant putting a hose in the pool and letting water run into it for a couple hours.
      Furthermore, decades of no regulation of underground water use by large-scale farms in the San Joaquin Valley has drained the water table there. It took millions of years to create and a couple decades to deplete. A few wet winters are not going to solve what is going to become a severe crisis in the next few years: depletion of the water table.
      San Joaquin Valley towns that are sinking and those that must have water trucked in are harbingers of what the future may hold for the entire west.
      And what will it mean to the rest of the United States when the land in California fails and cannot produce food?

      • Anne,
        Swimming pools, toilets, showers and landscaping are not the root of the problem. It’s the idea that growing rice and other water intensive crops in a desert makes sense under any circumstances. If farmers had to pay 1/10 of what I pay for water in the Bay Area, I guarantee they would stop growing these kinds of crops. They get used to abundant water in good years, but fail to adapt when water becomes limited during droughts and at least in California, about half of the years are drought years and making up the difference by pumping ground water accumulates a ground water deficit.

        In your case (near Sonora I presume), the underground springs are fed by snow melt along the west side of the crest. Last year, that snow pack burned out by mid July in the places where it normally persists all year long. Much of what little snow did accumulate was melted by significant monsoon rains coming up the spine of the Sierras from AZ. The water didn’t get a chance to percolate into the subsurface since the streams carrying that water pretty much dried out by early August.

        The Leavitt Lake snow depth is at about twice what it was last year at this time, so the good news is that your spring may reappear.

        http://wcc.sc.egov.usda.gov/nwcc/site?sitenum=574

      • This is absolute propaganda. I worked for the largest urban water district in California for 20 years. It is not rice or almond growers that have created the so-called drought (actually a man made water shortage). The myth that Big Agri-business uses most of the water and thus creates drought comes from the infamous book Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner. Although widely believed in the media the book is totally flawed. The Palm Springs area (Coachella Valley) is water self sufficient. Of its 122 golf courses, 28 once relied on imported water from the Colorado River; but no more because they have all shifted to recycled water. The California “desert” and inland areas of the state (mostly Republican counties) have abundant groundwater supplies. It is the Big Coastal cities that use most of the precious imported water. And before his death Marc Reisner recanted the thesis of his book (see his obituary).

        It doesn’t matter how much water desert communities, wealthy cities, or farmers use per day or per acre of cropland. What matters is how much IMPORTED water is used because dams and reservoirs with imported water is where the water shortages occur about once every 4 years.

        There was no “drought” in California, only a man made water shortage. Look at a bar graph of the historical precipitation in California. A “WET YEAR” only occurs about once every 5 years, the other four years are DRY YEARS. The current “drought” began in 2012 and lasted to mid-2015 and now it is raining cats and dogs, especially here in the California desert.

        The water shortage accompanying the drought is mainly in northern California reservoirs, not groundwater or Colorado River water supplies for farmers who just shift to using groundwater and fallowing farmland. So who uses the most imported northern California water? Big Blue coastal cities.

      • Wayne,
        About 80% of California’s total water supply is used for agriculture and 10% of the supply is used for almonds alone. Most of California’s water comes from California water sheds, although the distinction along state lines for determining what ‘importing’ means is wrong and the criteria should be transfer from one watershed to another, in which case S CA is importing a significant amount of water from both N and Central CA, most of which is also used for agriculture.

        Almonds are a high value product and an economic case can be made for them and other tree crops at almost any water cost, but how about the rest, much of which is used for corn, alfalfa, cotton and other low value, water intensive, crops. The reason they can do this is because the residential and commercial customers who use the remaining 20% of the water subsidize agriculture which ends up paying less for the water than its actually worth. If agriculture paid more for water when it’s scarce, like I’ve had to do, they would migrate to crops with water requirements commensurate to their value.

      • I see, you want to lecture me about water when you know nothing but cliches about it. Look, I worked for 20 years in a water district as I stated previously. I also worked for a think tank for 4 years doing policy analysis on California water. The 80% figure you use is erroneous. The official statistic by the California Dept. of Water Resources is that agriculture uses 41% of all system water (this shrinks or swells depending on whether it is a Dry Year or a Wet Year).

        I can tell there is no way I am going to convince you of this. So I am dialing you out and talking to the other readers of this website. For the other readers of this website see my article “Drought: What’s the Best Way to Save Water and Energy” –

        http://calwatchdog.com/2014/03/06/drought-whats-the-best-way-to-save-water-and-energy/.

        Also see my article “No Shortage of Water Mythmakers”

        http://calwatchdog.com/2011/04/05/no-shortage-of-water-myths-or-mythmakers/

      • Wayne,
        You are guilty of manipulating statistics. The 80% number comes from the fraction of ‘human consumption’, which is the only number that’s really relevant. Your 41% arises when you include water that’s there, but not available for human use, whether by regulation or otherwise, in which case that used by cities decreases from 20% to 10%. Just because some water is regulated to be retained by nature, doesn’t mean it gets to count against what is available for human consumption. It’s kind of silly to think that the total pool of available water is the sum of all rain and snow that falls in the state. The rivers must continue to flow.

        http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/04/15/50941/10-things-to-know-about-california-water-use/

        Agriculture becomes an even higher fraction when we consider ground water used directly and not accounted for in either pool of available water.

      • Wrong again (Mr. Gleick or his clone).  Human consumption water is both raw water (for plants and animals) or it is treated potable water (for humans).  The two are not the same and one is not for humans except indirectly. And ag water is reused many times over and also provides a habitat for fish and birds.   And you are still dodging the question: why does the California DWR say ag uses 41% of the water?  You certainly aren’t the god of what is considered the percentage of what ag uses for water.  And why do you dodge the issue that it is use of IMPORTED water that results in shortages during dry years?  Also, location of the shortages is critical because each reservoir does not serve the entire state but typically only a portion of it.   Also a 2008 US Bureau of Reclamation study projected that ag use would decline to only 12% by 2030 but urban use will explode to 88% (see excerpt below from my article “Big Coastal Cities, not Wealthy Cities and Farms, Have Drained California’s Reservoirs” – found online ) The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) study Water Supply and Yield Study of 2008, estimates that the water supply-demand gap in a dry year in the crucial Central Zone of the state is 2.3 million acre-feet per year.  California’s seven large cities (L.A., SF, Oakland, Fresno, San Jose, Irvine, San Diego) make up 93 percent of that gap in imported water.  The combined water use of the Coachella Valley cities near Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, and Rancho Santa Fe is only 2.8 percent of the supply-demand gap.Moreover, urban and environmental water use comprises 57 percent of the total average year supply-demand gap (1,310,000 acre-feet) while agriculture is only 43 percent (97,000 acre-feet)[see Table A-3].  By 2030 the BOR projects that agricultural water use will shrink to 12 percent but urban and environmental use will swell to 88 percent of the water gap (Table A-4).Interestingly, the 2008 BOR study also estimated that California has a supply-demand gap of 2.28 million acre-feet of water in a normal water year.  In other words, California reservoirs were in a structural (not cyclical) water deficit even before the 2012-2015 drought.The State Water Project delivers only 10 percent, and the Federal Central Valley Project only 23 percent, for a total of 33 percent of the state’s urban and agricultural water supplies (called “developed water”).  The other 67 percent comes from local water systems and the Colorado River.The use of the statistical measure of gallons per day per person (per capita) originated with theCalifornia Water Conservation Act, State Senate Bill SBX7-7 of 2009 sponsored by Democratic Party leader Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).  SBX7-7 was introduced and slammed through the Democrat-controlled state legislature in 12 days without sufficient public review.  The goal of SBX7-7 was to reduce per capita water use by 20 percent by 2020.  Focusing on the water absorbed by each proverbial tree and not the forest has kept the political heat from the drought off big Democratic-controlled cities and environmental interests. Why don’t you disclose your real name, your political affiliation, and your occupation?  Why do you hide behind the moniker C02IsNotEvil?  

      • Wayne,
        My point remains valid whether we use your numbers where cities use 10% and ag uses 40% or mine where cities use 20% and ag uses 80%., Agricultures still uses 4 X the water as cities (probably more including ground water) and since they generally fail to pay enough for that water, especially during times of drought, there is no incentive to grow crops whose water use is commensurate with the crop value.

      • As I already have stated many times, it doesn’t matter how much more water ag uses than cities, even if you were right (which you are not). You are using aggregated statistics that don’t reflect the real world. Each major reservoir in California doesn’t provide water to the whole system. It only provides water to its service area, which in many cases is an ag district unconnected to the larger system. Much of California’s water is not conveyable to big cities. During dry spells ag fallows acreage, the DWR often cuts back their allocation of state water (the US BOR also curtails shipments), and ag shifts to groundwater that is not pump-able to big cities. Capish? You don’t want to understand. This is called confirmation bias that self-validates your preconceptions.

        Also wholesale water is not underpriced because there is only a market for 5% of system water. The other 95% is conveyed under long term water contracts. There is no price for 95% of water, there is only a “cost” of service. You don’t know anything about public utility economics.

        Here is the rough “cost” of wholesale water:

        Built in the 1930’s system (Federal Central Valley Project & Colorado River Aqueduct) — $25 50 $100 per acre foot

        Built in the 1960’s system (State Water Project) – $100 to $500 per acre foot

        Built in the 1990’s to 2015 (Recycling, Desalting) – $1,000 to $3,000 per acre foot

        The relative difference in “costs” is not a cheap price advantage, because there are no prices for 95% of raw system water. The dollar difference is due to the fact that the bonds on old water projects are paid off or are now so low due to inflation that there is a cost advantage.

        If we shifted to a 100% water market LADWP would outbid the entire state and drive up “prices” to unreachable levels by small water districts and cities.

        Also a pure market system would ruin agriculture because ag depends on borrowing and lenders want long term water contracts before they will lend. Moreover, there would be no way to issue municipal bonds for large water projects without long term water contracts to back the repayment of the bonds. Underwriters would refuse to issue bonds unsecured by long term water contracts.

        Please quit pontificating your presumed moral and knowledge superiority of how California’s water system works which is based on newspaper cliches. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

        Go to Amazon.com and order any text on public utility economics.

      • Go to the following link which explains “where your water comes from”.

        http://www.nature.org/media/california/california_drinking-water-sources-2012.pdf

        Look at the maps of where Fresno’s and Modesto’s water comes from? Where San Francisco’s water comes from? Where Los Angeles’ water comes from? There is not a common pool of water or interlinking water system for all the watersheds and reservoirs in the state. SF’s water cannot be conveyed to LA and vice versa. Same with most of the rest of the state. (yes, there can be what are called “water transfers” where Colorado River water can be substituted for State Water Project water – e.g. Coachella Water District).

        So when you are using aggregate statistics it is grossly misleading. 80% of water purportedly used by ag that is unable to be conveyed elsewhere is comparing apples to oranges. And if any commodity is not conveyable there cannot be a “price” for it. Ahhhhh!

      • To C02IsNotEvil (alias George White of Pacific Palisades)

        Re: Price vs. Cost of Water

        Economist Walter E. Williams (“Price Versus Cost” Ap. 17, 2013-online) has an apology that applies to the issue of the “price” versus the “cost” of wholesale water. Williams points out that if the price of a haircut in San Francisco is $15 but is $5 in Boise, Idaho, you are not going to go to the Idaho barber. The price is cheaper, but the cost is much, much greater.

        A farmer may have surplus water but if there is no conveyance system to transfer water to other farmers and cities the cost would be prohibitive to build such a system. By the way, in California there is a law, called the Area of Origin Law, that forbids transferring water outside a water district or county, except in special cases.

        Same applies with wholesale water. Sure, wholesale water in the spot market is, what, $1,000 per acre feet during drought? Does that mean that every farmer who has a long term contract for water at, say, $25 or $100 per acre feet is getting “underpriced’ water? H_LL NO! Because you can’t compare prices with costs, which is what you are doing when you say that farmers waste water because it is underpriced.

        Here’s economist Williams’ definition of price: “We might think of price as the money that’s actually given in exchange for the transfer of ownership”. But it you can’t transfer a commodity, then there is no price. There is only a cost.

      • Wayne,

        I make no effort to hide my identify (in fact I’ve purposefully made it easy to figure out) and I always find it humorous when someone thinks they’re the ultimate Internet sleuth when they ‘unmask’ me. FYI, your sleuthing was insufficient since I am not from Pacific Palisades, but from San Jose. All you need to do is Google ‘co2isnotevil’ and invoke ‘whois’ to figure this out. I use co2isnotevil because 1) its what the science unambiguously tells us is the immutable truth and 2) it’s more easily found with Google while my name is too common and generates far too many hits. Like I said, I make it easy for people to figure out who I am.

        I guess you’re not forced to let your landscaping die and take 5 minute showers or else face penalties. Again, my point is that agriculture, which consumes at least 4X more water than cities (by any metric) has little incentive to conserve. We see this in the central valley where farmers resist going to drip irrigation because its not cost effective and continue to plant low value, water intensive crops in a freak’n desert. This tells me in no uncertain terms that they’re not paying enough for a limited resource and I shouldn’t be penalized to subsidize their irresponsibility. They negotiate cheap access to massive amounts of water which leads to a use or or loose it mentality, which is the exact opposite of conservation. Can you see the parallel to the way government spends taxpayer money?

        Conservation is the right answer, but it would be far more cost effective and have a far greater impact if agriculture had an incentive to conserve. This is referred to as addressing ‘the low hanging fruit’ and the free market tells us the way to do this is increase the cost. If agriculture can save just 12.5% of what it uses, which is easy to get with drip irrigation or minimizing low value, water intensive crops, it would be equivalent to a 50% reduction in what’s consumed by cities. Aggressive conservation could reduce agricultural use by even more than cities consume. Given the periodic nature of droughts, agricultural conservation should be a no brainer, but apparently, those who set policy here (i.e. progressive Democrats) have mush for brains. There can be no clearer indication of this than the Brown administrations blaming CO2 emissions for droughts, floods and weather which they seem to use to give them a pass at actually solving the problem of limited water in a desert state. As odd as it seems, they want disasters they can falsely blame on CO2 emissions.

        To be absolutely clear, I certainly understand that water comes from a variety of watershed dependent sources and that most agricultural water is separated from potable water, but the bottom line is that the ultimate source for all water in the state is rain and snow which is not nearly as predictable and consistent as the negotiated long term contracts for water imply and this is a major contributor to why we suffer continuous water shortages.

      • Wrong again. Farmers have invested $2 billion of their own money since 2003 in water conservation improvements, mostly drip irrigation according to Mike Wade of the California Farmwater Coalition.  Drip irrigation is no panacea because it ends up depleting groundwater supplies. Groundwater depends on recharge, either naturally or man made.   Ah, the utopian command and control market where the “price” of water is raised artificially is no panacea either and is not a “market”.  A market is a voluntary human solution to supply and demand of goods where the winner is those who produce at the lowest price.   Mind you I am a proponent of water markets wherever possible.  What you are proposing is water totalitarianism by a command and control of prices by government.  Be careful what you wish for, you may get it good and hard.  Where water markets might work is at the retail level, not the wholesale level. If each household in a community voluntarily wanted to trade some of their water to other households for, say, landscaping, that might work. The Chapman University Economics Department has a software tool that could facilitate such voluntary trades.  Again, go look at the bar chart for historical precipitation in California.  Actually, water is fairly predictable: a wet year once every 5 years followed by 4 dry years.  It is up to government to plan for droughts.  There was no drought from 2012 to mid 2015 because that was normal hydrology.  What we have been experiencing is a water shortage of man made origin.  I really am only writing this for third parties as you pretty much have ignored the information I have provided you. 

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        co2isnotevil commented: “Wayne,I make no effort to hide my identify (in fact I’ve purposefully made it easy to figure out) and I always find it humorous when someone thinks they’re the ultimate Internet sleuth when they ‘unmask’ me. FYI, your sleuthing was insufficient since” | | Respond to this comment by replying above this line |

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        | | | co2isnotevil commented on Drought buster? Up to 10 feet of snow this week for California’s Sierra Nevada. in response to Anne Shirley: You are right in how short sighted the government is and so are many Angelenos. I’m a sixth generation Californian and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, just north of Yosemite. This summer, for the first time in my memory (and i’m over 60), several families in our neighborhood, including mine, had to get […] Wayne,I make no effort to hide my identify (in fact I’ve purposefully made it easy to figure out) and I always find it humorous when someone thinks they’re the ultimate Internet sleuth when they ‘unmask’ me. FYI, your sleuthing was insufficient since I am not from Pacific Palisades, but from San Jose. All you need to do is Google ‘co2isnotevil’ and invoke ‘whois’ to figure this out. I use co2isnotevil because 1) its what the science unambiguously tells us is the immutable truth and 2) it’s more easily found with Google while my name is too common and generates far too many hits. Like I said, I make it easy for people to figure out who I am.I guess you’re not forced to let your landscaping die and take 5 minute showers or else face penalties. Again, my point is that agriculture, which consumes at least 4X more water than cities (by any metric) has little incentive to conserve. We see this in the central valley where farmers resist going to drip irrigation because its not cost effective and continue to plant low value, water intensive crops in a freak’n desert. This tells me in no uncertain terms that they’re not paying enough for a limited resource and I shouldn’t be penalized to subsidize their irresponsibility. They negotiate cheap access to massive amounts of water which leads to a use or or loose it mentality, which is the exact opposite of conservation. Can you see the parallel to the way government spends taxpayer money?Conservation is the right answer, but it would be far more cost effective and have a far greater impact if agriculture had an incentive to conserve. This is referred to as addressing ‘the low hanging fruit’ and the free market tells us the way to do this is increase the cost. If agriculture can save just 12.5% of what it uses, which is easy to get with drip irrigation or minimizing low value, water intensive crops, it would be equivalent to a 50% reduction in what’s consumed by cities. Aggressive conservation could reduce agricultural use by even more than cities consume. Given the periodic nature of droughts, agricultural conservation should be a no brainer, but apparently, those who set policy here (i.e. progressive Democrats) have mush for brains. There can be no clearer indication of this than the Brown administrations blaming CO2 emissions for droughts, floods and weather which they seem to use to give them a pass at actually solving the problem of limited water in a desert state. As odd as it seems, they want disasters they can falsely blame on CO2 emissions.To be absolutely clear, I certainly understand that water comes from a variety of watershed dependent sources and that most agricultural water is separated from potable water, but the bottom line is that the ultimate source for all water in the state is rain and snow which is not nearly as predictable and consistent as the negotiated long term contracts for water imply and this is a major contributor to why we suffer continuous water shortages. | Reply |    Comments |

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  6. Of course, any flooding or mudslides will be partly due to “climate change”. Like clockwork.

  7. The mega drought in Arizona destroyed many native settlements.

    I grew up playing on and around Kitt Peak due to the observatories there which were my playground and we often played with the children living in the village next to the mountain. We would run around in the desert looking for odds and ends which scattered all around us, shards of pottery.

    It was amazing how many people lived there and raised corn and other crops back when it was wet, all fled during the 200 year drought. Quite sad, one can see the lines where they grew their crops by lining up small rocks to retain rain water that usually fell during summer monsoon rains.

    I also remember fondly the floods of the early 1960’s when I got to miss school periodically since the bridges were washed out or undermined so no school for me! I used to go off on Socksie, my draft horse, to haul cars out of overflowing roads.

    Arizona can and does, during el Ninos, go into a lot of flooding.

    • I’ve been in Arizona for 20 years now, and this past year has had the most consistent and heavy rain I’ve seen. And it looks like we’re going to be wet the next few days too.

      • The last 20 years have been moderate for Arizona. The December ’67 snow disaster buried the North, devastating the Navajo reservation and much of the Rim area. The Air Guard used C-119’s to drop supplies for the people and hay to the stranded cattle and sheep. Rain to the South filled the arroyos at my home in Tucson and caused several fatalities. The 1979 floods destroyed all but 1 bridge in Phoenix across the Salt river and several more around the valley, jamming up traffic for months. Then the 1993 flood destroyed thousands of acres of farm land and many homes in the lower Gila river valley. Only some quick work by a dozer crew saved the entire town of Roll from being washed away. I worked that one personally, airlifting workers and supplies into the area after the bridges washed away. Hate to say it, but Arizona is living on borrowed time for a disaster, given its history and the stupidity of developers and home buyers there, putting in and living in developments in historic flood areas. And, of course, when that happens it won’t be caused by poor civic planning, but by CAGW caused extreme weather (that’s been going on every decade or two for hundreds of years)

    • Even though I now live in NC, I was 3rd generation AZ. I remember the 60s floods. My parents told me that at the turn of the 20th century, northern Arizona had plenty of grass for grazing of cattle. Just ask the Navaho. Hard to find that grass now. Natural variation.

  8. “The latest GFS forecast model has snowfall totals racking up to 10 feet over the next 10 days, and widespread amounts over 4 feet elsewhere in the Sierra and Siskiyou mountain ranges:”

    The graph that follows this — accumulated snow between Jan 3 and Jan 13 — has a scale of inches, not feet. Am I missing something?

    • A crude rule of thumb is 10 inches of snowfall melts into 1 inch of rainfall. The real conversion changes with temperature and actual type of snow. The best way is to take samples and melt them, but the crude rule-of-thumb gets you into the ballpark.

      • Not in the Sierras! Sometimes it feels like you are skiing on 2 inches of snow per one inch of rain!!!

    • A very rough rule of thumb is that one foot of snow is equivalent to about one inch of rain. If it is “dry” snow – light, very cold, loose accumulations – the water content is lower. What we like are alternating storms with brief warming periods that allow some water percolation into the snow pack and soil. It increases avalanche hazards, but also stores more water. Naturally, once the snow pack really starts to melt in spring, the delta farmers have to keep a close watch on their levees, otherwise they may have to take up fish farming.

      • That’s why I like the “snow water equivalent” (SWE) snow pack data, and the “SWE % of normal” best of all. Snow depth and total snowfall are more interesting for skiers.

  9. Hooray for the drought-busting good news. The bad news: If memory serves, people in SoCal don’t know how to drive in the rain.

    SigAlert: Don’t bother with the freeways today. It’s raining.

    • It’s mostly the first rain of the year. Because it doesn’t rain at all in SoCal for six or eight months and there are — to say the least — a lot of vehicles in use, a film of hydrocarbons builds up on the road surfaces. Comes the first real rain and the film gets slippery. Significantly worse than a “normal” wet road. More of like driving in freezing rain. Result – cars all over the road. Good day not to drive at rush hour as I recall.

    • Actually, Bob, based on my decades of experience here in SoCal, most people don’t know how to drive. Or, maybe, they just aren’t paying attention.

      • Recently in LA I saw a young (helmetless) woman on a bicycle, crossing a busy road intersection whilst texting … with both hands.

      • My bike riding days are over. No longer will I be doing full tilt down Dead Man’s Hill, followed immediately by Suicide Bend (North end of Central Park, NYC). Often.
        No helmet. Hands locked firmly behind my back. (Lean to turn.)

        I figure I beat the odds, so I am quitting while I am ahead.

        So now I am working on this climate paper (Anthony’s team). You would have thought I had learned. But old habits die hard.

    • A few years ago I drove down Hwy 5 and just south of Redding we encountered flashing CalTrans signs warning of “Highway Rehabilitation Ahead”. I turned to my traveling partner and opined: “that sounds an awful lot more expensive than ‘Road Repair” Good to see that the predictable result of the El Nino is playing out and fingers are crossed that bone headed moves by the Water Control Board don’t squander it.

      • If they would have build some storage in the past ten years instead of tearing down some of them and letting water run out of rivers to save a few fish that salmon don’t eat there would not be a problem in the first place! Planing , planning, planning. In BC Canada the gov. have just given approval for the mega project, the Site C dam that actually has fought the environmentalists for decades

    • Bob, they feel invincible. What else could explain blithely driving around a “road closed” barrier into an intersection cum 10-ft deep pond.

  10. If you take a peak at the winter snowfall totals for Mammoth Mountain (freely available on the net from 1969/70), you will see the following:

    1. The four snowiest seasons were 2010/11; 2005/6; 2004/5 and 2009/10.
    2. Only 2014/15 was in the four least snowy seasons: the others were 1975/6, 1976/7 and 1986/7.
    3. The average winter snowfall of the past 10 years (excluding the current winter) has been 381.5 inches, against an average 340.3 inches over the period since 1969/70.

    This does suggest that issues more complex than simple winter snowfall may be involved in the nature of California’s drought, in particular whether ‘less snowy winters’ saw higher precipitation due to greater levels of rain or not.

    Clearly, it may be worthwhile examining some more resorts in other parts of the state before simply using the Mammoth data.

    But as the four snowiest seasons in the whole 47 year data set occurred in the past 11 years, it does suggest that water management issues may also be involved (be that water storage, agricultural water usage, human water usage patterns etc etc) rather than simply it being a function of precipitation patterns……

    If site moderators would like me to email them a spreadsheet with the primary data, I’m happy to do so if they contact me privately…….

    • I spent the winter of 1970/71 living at Tahoe City on the north end of the lake. That winter was a huge snow year as can be attested to by the statue of the Donner Party which sits close to Donner Lake. The statue depicts a group of survivors. They stand on a platform approximately 31 feet above the ground. That indicates the depth of the snow which they faced. In 1970/71 the snow reached the platform. That winter started off a bit late, but then it picked up steadily from mid November on. In the middle of December there was a 12 foot snowfall in 3 days, and 2 weeks later there was 6 foot in one day. It was a sight to see. In light of that, It makes me wonder why that year did not make it into the top years for Sierra snow.

      • I remember that. I had just moved to a ski resort in BC Canada but my experience was the winter of 1971-1972?. Currently that mountain has more snow then in previous years and it normally gets the majority of it’s snow late Jan- Feb. ( cumulative is now at 14.5 feet, their base is 7+ feet and snowing heavily) I also remember that some lifts in Utah were buried that winter and could not be used for a long time!

  11. Remember, the #1 reason Hollywood became the movie making capital was due to LITTLE RAIN. Thus, they could film stuff outside.

    Los Angeles has an immense population grossly too big for a desert region just like Phoenix, too big. The Hoover Dam made both places possible (drying up much of the Colorado River south of the dam).

    Desert climates are notorious for alternating long droughts and sudden floods.

    • Nail, meet head. If anything, reserve capacity is shrinking — which is utterly insane but not entirely surprising.

    • The dam removal ecoterrorists are still working against even maintaining the current storage capacity. The O’Shaughnessy Dam holding back the HetchHetchy Reservoir provides 85% of SanFran’s drinking water.

      Its econutter vs. SanFran econutter on the dam removal controversy. Sweet.

  12. In my neck ‘o the woods (SW Canada/Northern Cascades) elevations above 500 meters already have anywhere from 3 to 7 meters of snow, but it will take a few annual cycles like this before the full year long snow and ice returns. This past summer saw most if not all of the mountain accumulations of snow and ice below 4000 meters vanish almost completely. While not remarkable, it is nevertheless something to be reckoned with. The melt did not lead to any serious drought conditions here and will hopefully prove just an outlier year. I have only once before seen the mountains around here turn completely green. If the El Nino continues to fizzle then we might be in for a few more seasons of drought out west below the 49th.

    • TrueNorthist, My wife and I live in the foothills of the Cascades in Washington State. I am not sure about your view of the higher peaks but Mt. Rainier is something we look at every day. Before the snows really got started this season my wife and I were commenting that the snow pack on Mt. Rainier appeared to be greater than what it has been in many recent years.

      A couple years ago our local papers had pictures of Mt. Rainier that supposedly showed how bare it had become in a multipage feature about “global warming” shrinking glaciers and the mountains around here. By comparing the photo with the view we had we could tell that it had not been taken recently. In a letter to the editor I pointed out that the primary photo that they used for the article had actually been taken in the late 1970s. The picture was familiar to me because in 1979 we had to cancel a climb of Mount Rainier because the “snow bridges” that were on the route we had planned to use had already melted in late May. For some reason the letter was never published.

      • Steve Miller – IIRC, that newspaper was the venerable News Tribune, or was it also in the Seattle Times? I read those articles in the TNT as well, full of alarmist tripe coupled with sound science, couched and presented in such a way that the inevitable conclusion was that our human releases of carbon (dioxide, via fossil fuel combustion) were reducing precipitation, and increasing the ambient temperature therefore reducing the snow pack (see: http://media.thenewstribune.com/static/pages/rainier/). And, as we have seen in the successive year or so in our State (and the TNT paper) an ever-increasing cry for instituting “Carbon (sic) Taxes”. And it does not surprise me in the least that your erudite and accurate response letter to the editor was not published – against the narrative, you know! Can’t have reality getting in the way of alarmist claptrap!

        Your neighbor,

        MCR

    • p.g.sharrow

      Lived below L.A. for a few years. After the rains and the spring growth come the summer wildfires. Drought, rain, wildfires. Like clockwork.

      Eugene WR Gallun

      • Mr Gallun,

        It’s said there are four seasons in LA:
        Fire Flood Earthquake and Drought!

        iron brian

      • If you live in the Sierra foothills, it is remarkable how both drought and good rainfall lead to serious fire hazards. Apparently, there is no silver lining that lacks a cloud.

  13. We are having a pretty bleak winter so far here in AK. Warm winds have melted virtually all the snow we had. The media is of course blaming it on the Climate Change beast. California needs the snow more than we do .. but it would be nice to have some snow on the ground in January.

    • Yep. Snowfall totals are on the list of events proving that global climate wierding/disruption/change/warming is all mankind’s fault.

  14. So here we are again with the biggest question of this whole curiosity of climate: what constitutes NORMAL?

      • In California “normal” (4 dry years and 1 pending wet year) is a “crisis”, which, as former White House Chief Rahm Emanuel famously said, “is a terrible thing to waste”. So California punched through the regulation of groundwater for the first time in California using the pretense of a drought “crisis” despite the state historically has had the most successful record of using adjudication to manage groundwater. So was the so-called “drought” manufactured for a future water grab? There is no way to say definitively. But California’s coastal water hog cities will need to find some way to take water from farmers, by conservation or regulation, if they are going to continue to grow. Farming in California is mainly undertaken in Republican counties. So California’s near-monopoly Democratic Party doesn’t care if farming is driven out of the state. A plausible future scenario might be that all those farmers currently holding junior water rights would eventually see their water taken by regulation and diverted to big cities.

    • Climate does not have a “normal.” Normal means conforming to an objective norm or standard that exists outside of the thing measured, and we have nothing like that for climate. We have averages, of temperature, precipitation, wind, etc., compiled over various periods of time (and then possibly changed or “adjusted” by those with CAGW agendas). Norms are such things as 98.6 degrees F for human body temperature and 20/20 for human visual acuity. There are objective and long-term data that confirm such norms, but for weather and climate nothing of the sort exists. If the average temperature for a day is 50 degrees F, is a 60-degree day abnormal? Or a 40-degree day? If the average rainfall is a tenth of an inch per day, is a day when you receive no rain abnormal? To ask such questions exposes the absurdity. Normal weather likely does not exist, in the technical sense. For a true norm, a substantial deviation can be downright dangerous: whom do you know that has survived a 108.6-degree fever? Weather deviates from the average all the time. I’ve been keeping weather records here for about three years now, and the number of days that actually exhibit the long-term average is perhaps two a year.

      • I do not understand why people can’t adapt to the concept of “normal” as it is used by meteorologists. It was decided on in the mid-1930s for a specific purpose, namely to have something to compare a place’s current weather with that of a previous period – a recent 30 year period.
        This selection was not meant to represent “climate” but it is used and well defined to compare today to the past.
        You can see how these “normals” change [1961-90, 1971-00, 1981-2010] via the left side of this page:

        LONGMIRE RAINIER NPS, WASHINGTON

        98.6°, likewise, is not fixed. Other than by definition, there is no reason to call that normal. WebMd

    • To me as a native, this year looks more “normal” than not. I’ve always associated what is sometimes referred to as the “Pineapple Express” with El Nino. The storms we are seeing now are coming from the Gulf of Alaska and look to be “normal” winter storms rather that tropical moisture being sucked up past Hawaii.

    • There is no such thing as ‘NORMAL’ relative to the climate, especially in a region like the West Coast where the closest thing to normal is wildly swinging between extremes, both on a seasonal and yearly basis. All we can talk about is the average, which is often confused with normal and even so, the average is a moving target where we don’t have enough long term data to really know where the average is heading with any certainty.

      • WRT the daily “SWE % normal” map I posted here, earlier, “normal” is median SWE from 1981 to 2010. It would be nice if it started in earlier, but like satellite temperature data, these are not measured snow pack data, they are calculated daily from doppler radar precipitation estimates and temperature data. However, they compare reasonably well to traditional periodic on-site core sampling.

      • PS By “like satellite temperature data” I did not mean those are estimates, I meant lower tropospheric temperature data and daily snow pack estimates both rely on technology and systems not previously available.

  15. I have been curious about the definition of drought as used in various websites and blogs. I have heard that “drought that is a condition that could be expected to occur only 10% of the time.” Interesting . . . by that definition, we could expect 10% of the U.S. — or any large geographical area — to be in drought at any one point in time.
    The Drought Monitor at UNL explicitly uses reservoir levels as a factor in determining drought conditions. But that makes drought dependent on population and economic growth because more people and more water use means more draw on the reservoir. Indeed, “Drought is caused by not only lack of precipitation and high temperatures but by overuse and overpopulation,” according to David Miskus, a drought expert and meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.
    To make drought a function of population and economic growth means we will have increasing droughts even if climate does not change! That outcome does not sound scientifically sound to me.
    I suspect that the Palmer index is a better measure of drought — rainfall and temperatures are factors, but not population and economic conditions.

  16. What relevance is it for the California Dept. of Water Resources to report the winter average water level for its state reservoirs? None. Look at a bar chart of historical precipitation in California. Almost like clockwork California gets 1 WET YEAR out of every 5 years. In other words, 4 out of five years are DRY YEARS. California has to store enough water in that one year to supply about two thirds of the water for cities and farms for the next 4 years (the other third comes from groundwater). So an average of WET and DRY years is mostly meaningless. What is the average reservoir level after 4 DRY YEARS would seem to be the relevant statistic.

    I once proposed that California change its nomenclature and stop calling a NORMAL 4 year dry spell a “drought”. I instead proposed the term “A Punto Ano Agua” (Spanish for Peak Water Year) to better explain how California’s hydrology works. “Nino”, “Nina”, blah, blah, blah. What is the average reservoir level in an “A Punto Ano?”. That is what I want to know.

    But what do I know?

  17. Have California law makers learned a lesson and will they make the best of this temporary reprieve? I doubt it. They will do nothing to ensure future water security for the sake of a relatively unimportant fish.

    • California lawmakers do not seem to be capable of learning lessons. The “relatively unimportant fish” could be protected at a fraction of the proposed delta tunnel costs by simply making Southern California cities and farmers in the Southern San Joaquin Valley who like to raise water-intensive crops in a desert pay for their water at the actual cost to the rest of the state or install desalinization plants and make their own fresh water. Most of the rest of the state is unaware that in western Merced and Fresno counties the water table is only a few feet down, but the water is more saline than the Pacific Ocean. That would protect the salmon fisheries as well, which are much more important than your “relatively unimportant” fish. As it is, the north and central state subsidize the south lands at the expense of permitting the creation real environmental problems. Jerry B is still trying to keep promises his father and he made to the southerns, and which have already been shot down in elections at least once.

  18. “I can remember El Niño years where we have been in a drought situation and a “March miracle” occurred …”

    2010-2011 wasn’t an El Niño winter, yet a “March Miracle” came and the Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevada received a record snowfall total in many locations. For example Squaw Valley resort recorded over 800 inches of snowfall. Here’s a telling map of western snowpack “water equivalent” on 1 May 2011:

    • This year the total received at Squaw by Jan 1 is over 100″ less than the 2010/2011 season and only a little above ‘average’, but the amount still on the ground is above average and steeper terrain has opened as early as ever. The current pattern is for small amounts (few inches to a foot) in a series of storms. It would be real nice if I could ski Main Chute on July 4’th again, or even Chute 75 on Memorial Day, but for that we need the big, heavy wet storms more typical of El Nino’s and which make a long lasting base, which we haven’t really had.

      10′ seems optimistic for the current sequence of storms by the weekend, but the expected 3-5 feet above 8000′ and about half this at lake level is still good and will push us towards an above average season.

      http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Tahoe+City&state=CA&site=REV&lat=39.1924&lon=-120.22#.Vosv017G_7D

  19. It’s not very El Nino like thus far. Most systems are very cold and relatively moisture starved, at least at these latitudes. We have yet to see a good tap for any length of time.

    • Just looked at today’s NOAA ENSO report deck. El Nino characteristic values are plummeting and upper level velocity anomalies are heading in the wrong direction for any sort of sustained drought buster. January will probably be OK but after that I don’t expect much.

  20. Its nice to see them getting the reserves back but don’t i seem to recall that the nutters drained the reservoirs at the absolute worst possible time?

    • The rivers which NATURALY used to go dry in droughts, all flow year round as they continue to drain resivors.

  21. The alarmists have entered a new era.
    After years of chanting “weather is not climate” there’s a new decree being made.
    A few days ago in our local Oregonlive.com
    David Appell
    ” Climate change now influences all weather.”
    “All weather events now do have a climate change component.”
    “Every weather event now has AGW mixed into it.”
    “It has determined that some extreme weather is being influenced by AGW.”

    That’s an impressive scientific development.
    Or not?

    • @ Steve Oregon, 11.29 am, you quoted this:
      “David Appell
      ” Climate change now influences all weather.”
      “All weather events now do have a climate change component.”
      “Every weather event now has AGW mixed into it.”
      “It has determined that some extreme weather is being influenced by AGW.”

      That is not a scientific development, It is a semantic development.
      Because the fact that if everyone thinks COP21 in Paris was an end to the “Global Warming or Climate Change” hoax, Reading that statement, they are sadly mistaken , as you point out.
      That language is to me the next step these hoaxers are going to take . Just think how easy it will be for the warmists to grab onto that language. They cannot go wrong with that one.

      That is a really ” See no matter what” we were “right” all along angle..

  22. As I recall, correct me if I am wrong, CA can go from extreme drought to extreme precipitation quite quickly.

    Next spring when if stuff melts fast (it would just take some heavy rain), they might be having flooding.

    Climate change. Can’t live with. Can’t live without it.

  23. Unusually in this El Nino, there have been heavy rains in late spring and early summer in eastern Austraila. busting droughts and quenching bush fires. Normally El Ninos bring drought to Australia, but not this time.

  24. For what it’s worth: Fifty-five years ago I was taking a college class named “Conservation”. The instructor commented “If it doesn’t rain enough for a year or so in northern California, you just wait awhile longer and it will rain enough.”

  25. The Monster El Nino has just dropped drought breaking rains on the eastern side of Australia. The monsoon that was not supposed to come down is filling dams and running rivers. Of course they need the same amount again in about 1 month.
    Considering this major error, they try to have us believe tithing to the UN will save the climate in 100 years.
    The warmists are an embarrassment to themselves and a drain on the world’s economy. Considering the rain, it is only the political drips that go along with it.

  26. A rare mention of the historic drought hitting his native California from Mr. Watts. As far as I can tell from a quick search, he’s only mentioned it three times, to claim it’s nothing out of the ordinary or nothing to do with climate change. But if I missed some of his posts on the topic please fill me in… I’m sure he wasn’t just waiting for a possible break in the drought to mention it.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/18/spot-the-portion-of-drought-caused-by-climate-change/

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/29/claim-cause-of-california-drought-linked-to-climate-change-not-one-mention-of-enso-or-el-nino/

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/20/ridiculous-claim-from-columbia-university-warming-climate-is-deepening-california-drought/

    • I think it is like the ache in my big toe. It has been with me for so long I hardly notice it anymore, and would never think to mention it if you ask me how I feel.
      California without drought would be like a day without wine. That we’d notice.

    • Sierra Nevada snowfall consistent over 130 years:

      http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Study-Sierra-snowfall-consistent-over-130-years-3331631.php

      “Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada has remained consistent for 130 years, with no evidence that anything has changed as a result of climate change”

      Just sayin’. Since nearly all CA agriculture is irrigation from reservoirs, which are replenished during the critcal dry season from snow pack, even you might catch on to the myth of “unprecedented drought”.

  27. I am happy that CA is getting Snowfall in the Sierras. lOVE it. Yosemite with snow is magically terrifying.

    For us here in Texas, the 4-year drought has been broken… None expected anywhere sight in the state at least until March.

    Oh, and FYI, statewide reservoirs are at 86% full. Many individual ones overflowing.

    Waaaaahooooo!

  28. As I was growing up in Arizona the highest rainfall month split the state: January in Phoenix from what little was left in the southern tails of the typical northwest winter storms generated in the Gulf of Alaska; and August for Tucson closer to the Mexican border from the summer monsoonal thunderstorms heading north out of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).
    What I was struck with at the end of January 2015 was an out of season monsoonal-direction (from the south) precipitation event driving its way up the Colorado river to reach Idaho! This resulted from a stream of subtropical air originating from tropical storminess off the west coast of lower Mexico being diverted by a counter clockwise spinning low pressure center that at the time happened to be just off the southern California coast. Otherwise this river of warm moist air driven by a southerly branch of the jet stream (what we west coasters have taken to calling a “pineapple express” when sourced in waters nearer Hawaii) has been most often headed northeast across Mexico and the Texas/Gulf coast.
    Indeed some months later this region of ocean would bring flooding rains to the Houston area, produce 3 strong hurricanes in quick sequence that were unusually all in Pacific satellite view at one time (and as usual headed westward to at last loop northward in the region of Hawaii and decompose over the cooler waters thereabouts), and then late in the hurricane season spawn hurricane Patricia (with the lowest core pressure “evah” recorded in such a Pacific storm — well, as long as they have been made) to make landfall south of Puerto Vallarta and follow that same track across Mexico.
    What has been notable again this December (winter month) was that, while there was no nearby diverting low pressure to steer this robust warm water vapor flow toward Arizona’s Sonoran desert and southern California’s Mojave desert, this skyway was still very much in evidence in animations of eastern Pacific infrared satellite imagery. So that near mid-month subtropical poppin’ eastern Pacific storm activity from the same area was sending this flow of significant southerly precipitation into east Texas/Oklahoma and up the Mississipi river valley as far as the mid-west states north of the Ohio river along with daytime high temperatures reaching the 60s F.
    Then 2 weeks ago, well west of the usual eastern end of that subtropical storminess band a much larger warm moist blob lifted north from that latitude well to the west (nearly to Hawaii) and was clearly caught up in the same southerly jet stream branch in the satellite animation. This would be delivered once again in the same pattern to east Texas/Olkahoma and north (driving Dallas temperatures to 80 F.) but this time punctuated with tornadic storm energies, and with the arrival from the west of a more seasonal cold air mass such flooding rains (10 inches over 36 hours at one Missouri reporting site) that Mississippi river tributaries up to the Ohio river drainage approached flood stages and the consequences for the lower Mississippi river as that great fluid bulk moves downstream will take weeks to develop. Flood control gates may need to be opened to damaging effect on local farmlands in order to spare New Orleans region levees from the pressure.
    These have been the roots of the mild winter conditions in the mid-west U.S. near the end of 2015. And apart from the loss of life from the accompanying tornadoes further south, tragically there were vehicular drownings when motorists were tempted to cross a roadway with just a foot or two of rushing water, unaware of the full momentum packed in every 62.4 pound cubic foot of that fluid which would combine to sweep them away downstream. At least those of us raised amongst the desert washes of Arizona were well coached on this peril of flash floods.
    So is there a relation here to additional El Nino heat energy in eastern Pacific surface waters evaporating more energetic water vapor into the atmosphere as has so prominently figured in speculations for drought relief in the arid southwest of the country? The remotely imaged visuals would seem to support that notion for this particular circulation pattern directed toward mid-continent. But we southern Californians need to be cautious about assuming much about our own region, recalling that Los Angeles’ century-long record cumulative rainfall in 2005 (at the same time converting Death Valley salt flats into a shallow lake and producing a banner year for Mojave desert spring wildflowers) arrived in an unremarkable year for El Nino strength.
    And having experienced the 1997-98 El Nino deluge in the San Francisco bay area (which had my wife and I initially literally bucket brigading the standing water our of our sub-basement after our local water table had risen high enough to alert us by extinguishing the burner of our hot water heater down there), I must also report that we were not at the time on the receiving end of a “pineapple express” to account for that precipitation, but a jet stream that had parked itself at our latitude for over 2 weeks, driving relentlessly the seasonal Pacific storms one after another straight at us from the west. Doc Chuck

  29. I for one am just glad to know that if I use fire, the sky gets hot. It can not snow on me because of this.

    And I am glad to have learned from studying climatology that the reason snow falls up in mountains

    also way, way up high in the north pole, where it used to be cold there but now the air is warm,

    is because of me using fire and backwards radiation is coming down on me and snow.

    But there of course are not any people, living up on a mountain. Why would there.

    Also no people living at the north pole, and at that other one on the other side of the world;

    I can’t remember right now because the climate is so complicated. But –

    there is no fire up there so the snow can not be Backerdized.

    Also I have learned from studying climatology, there

    have been for centuries, civilizations much more

    advanced than ours in some ways,

    warming light-heated rocks

    by immersing them in frigid turbulent refrigerated gas baths, until the light-warmed rocks, were even warmer,

    than when there was more light warming the rocks, and there WAS NO frigid refrigerated bath.

    Now that just goes to show what YOU can LEARN,

    readin’

    at NASA
    and at Wikipedia.

    You gotta ‘cross reference’ it all before you can understand it. It’s very, very complicated.

    It is so complicated there aren’t any experiments that you could do.

    But we do have to do more research. And pay money to signtists

    to stop the sky from being hot. That is a real big one there

    because its so magical, it could just run away

    and keep on getting hotter and hotter, the more fire you make. It just makes sense.

    The sky gets hotter: sky comes down at you. And at snow. Stopping snow and making you hot.

    It is proven by: if you use fire the sky gets hot. Backerd’s radiation (Thank you Dr. Backerd for your contribution to climate signs) reflects down out of the hot sky and doesn’t let snow come down. Because snow can not come down to back radiation. It can’t do that.

    But I am a big lover of climate bears and i know we will make this sky cool off someday.

    Some way, even if we make the sky get so hot, we all burn up inside and just shrivel up and turn into dust in the wind and then the sky gets cold by itself with there’s no people any more to make the sky get hotter than it should get.

    Thank you Dr Schmidt for teaching the world that a frigid refrigerated bath really is, a mighty, mighty heater.

    If you look at it enough, it is like it IS one. That is what he told me, and that is what I did. And now I can see that studying the climate – that’s for the government people like Dr Schmidt who would never lie to us

    and tell the world a frigid turbulent refrigerated bath, magically became a heater in the sky, if it were not very very true. All the way true.

    Ok the basic science is true that if you put a light-warmed rock into a light blocking refrigerated bath, it will get hotter than if you did NOT put it in a frigid light blocking bath.

    Everybody knows that, it just makes good sense. Good thermodynamic sense. Every body agrees that does not hate signs.

    And then there is the part about how – all those ancient civilizations knew about it and used these green technologies. He has helped us understand that! YaY Gavin you are a smart, smart, feller and soon you will have us all back at the (warm) stone age where we belong, so we can use those green technologies again.

    The old ways
    The pure ways
    The ”Hey fire is the devil. Go throw rocks at your investor till he sells me your energy sector stocks for a dime on the dollar” ways.

    Sarc/off

  30. What ever will the Gullible Climate change followers of everything Al Gore do if you take away blaming this drought on climate change. How dare you use Historical fact and measurements! They need this cause to make their lives meaningful! Telling a Climate Change Moron there is no such thing is like telling a kid there is no Santa Claus! Governor Brown needs this! Our state leaders need this! Otherwise they will have to devote more time to causes that really matter in this state including rising pension costs and cities going bankrupt etc…

  31. Time to switch the meme from “Man’s CO2 pollution causes drought” to “Man’s CO2 pollution causes flooding”.
    (If Man isn’t the cause then there’s no excuse to control what you do.)

  32. The title is terrible there is no way one storm can or season can recuperate essentially empty reservoirs. It’s likely if it rained fr M now until March our reservoirs wouldn’t be at 50%.

  33. Sure wish someone with access to a nuclear spectrometer would analyze a fresh snow sample off the Pacific to see how much Fukushima radioisotopes and particles it contains…..

  34. Fukushima radiation in recent snowpack? There is probably more trace radiation in the water you drink already. Heck, there is a major reservoir in California built on top of a uranium field but I’m not telling which one.

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