What “permanent drought”? New all-time rainfall record set for California

From the California Dept. of Water Resources

Northern Sierra Precipitation Sets Water Year Record Atmospheric Rivers Pushed Total to 89.7 Inches since October 1

SACRAMENTO – Never in nearly a century of Department of Water Resources (DWR) recordkeeping has so much precipitation fallen in the northern Sierra in a water year. DWR reported today that 89.7 inches of precipitation – rain and snowmelt – has been recorded by the eight weather stations it has monitored continuously since 1920 from Shasta Lake to the American River basin.

Source: https://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/precipapp/get8SIPrecipIndex.action

Today’s total surpassed the previous record of 88.5 inches recorded in the entirety of Water Year 1983. The region’s annual average is 50 inches. California traditionally receives 30 to 50 percent of its annual precipitation from atmospheric rivers (ARs), long and relatively narrow “rivers in the sky” laden with moisture that blow in from the Pacific. The West Coast experienced 46 ARs between October 1 and March 31, the first six months of Water Year 2017. Nearly one-third of the total were “strong” (13) or “extreme” (3) ARs. DWR’s 5-station San Joaquin index is keeping pace with Water Year 1983’s record total of 77.4 inches in the region. Today’s total of 68.2 inches among the stations is 194 percent of the average precipitation recorded by today’s date during the water year and far exceeds the San Joaquin annual average of 40.8 inches.

The six-station index in the Tulare Basin, often called ground zero of California’s five-year drought, which officially ended in most of California on April 7, has recorded 178 percent of the amount of precipitation that normally falls by this date during an average water year. Total precipitation so far is 45 inches, about 1.5 times the average annual precipitation of 29.3 inches in the basin. The snow water equivalent of California’s snowpack is far above average throughout the Sierra Nevada — 176 percent of the April 13 average. DWR will conduct its final snow survey of the season on May 1 at Phillips Station in the Sierra 90 miles east of Sacramento.

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92 thoughts on “What “permanent drought”? New all-time rainfall record set for California

  1. I think in this saga of the “permanent drought” there have been a couple of new records set, not all of them to do with precipitation.

      • He’s avoiding Korea because its climate change. A cold front, kinda. I wish I can travel the South Africa soon… next winter maybe. That is, summer in SA.

      • commieBob

        I am indeed in South Africa. I have been at the Domestic Use of Energy conference in Cape Town and am now transferring an extremely low emissions coal burning technology to the North-West University for them to model using CFD and to generate some emissions profiles for different types of coal.

        I was in Mongolia a scant few weeks ago and it was -25C. Here is much better! Tomorrow I am heading to Hong Kong and Beijing.

        Cape Town has had a really bad drought for a couple of El Nino years but it sure looks like rain this winter. It rained really hard (unseasonably) in Potchefstroom yesterday. In future children just aren’t going to know what a drought is. California will be no exception.

        Hey everyone – there is a conference in Warsaw (29-30 May) hosted mostly by the ICCI (Climate Cryo people) which is specifically discussing wood and coal fired stoves that heat and cook – in short, the real world for most people in Asia and a surprising number in E Europe. This is a first.

        Here is a concept that must be noted for future arguments: One thing they will say for sure is that x-tons of coal are consumed for domestic heating and cooking around the world. That gives rise to y-emissions of a-b-c. Then arguments will be presented on how that can be changed to renewables and LPG and so on. The baseline will be coal at current consumption and not new technologies or alternatives delivering some (potentially large) reduction.

        Well, consider that the average Asian artisan space heating stove is 30% efficient and has terrible emissions. Consider also that using available technology and designs in the public domain, consumption can be reduced by 50-66% and emissions by >98%. It means the baseline can quickly be reduced to half its present value. The effect is to double the comparative cost of offsets and halve their value. In short, ‘viable’ alternatives rely on wasteful and foolish present technologies, not what could be done with the current fuels.

        I consulted with an expert on combustion technologies with 50 years of experience with EDF and Eskom who thinks what he was shown is novel and makes sense, resulting in the near elimination of PM2.5 and CO from the combustion of coal. It also happens to be cheap and already in production in Bishkek and Dushanbe.

        Perpetual alarms like ‘drought!’ and ‘flood’! and ‘storms’! are no different from the shouts of ‘coal!’ and ‘smoke’! and ‘death’! When you look closely the bogey man is very small.

    • The Climate Doomsters-Climate Profiteers, i.e. the Eco-lib (group)think tanks, are busy working on moving the goalposts.

      Accepted meteorological definition of drought:
      “a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall”

      Post-modern, Liberal definition of drought:
      “anthropogenic demand for fresh water resources exceeding available supply.”

      A further benny to this new Liberal definition of drought:
      It keeps the social scientists and economists employed, since they aren’t really scientists. And no matter how much bountiful water nature supplies, man’s appetite to use it is unquenchable (pun intended).

  2. Yep, and the warmists predicted that there would be more rain due to AGW.
    Win-win for everyone except for Willis’ cat.

    • I recall the first prediction was clearly more drought, especially for the Southwest, in terms of Texas. Then the rains came, and Texas was flooded out. Then it was spun over to California. Then the rains came. So really, most climate predictions are repair operations to keep concepts of climate current to recent weather events.

      • Yes I agree but it used to be called man made global warming, hot, dry and droughts. Which is why the term climate change was invented so now anything is proof of mankind’s meddling in nature. Hot,cold, drought and floods, more or less tornadoes, bigger or smaller elephants you name it.

        I had a friend tell me last night that she was having nightmares about the end of the world and that humanity had only 100 years left, I kid you not. I tried to calm her down but I’m not sure how successful I was.

        This whole thing is beyond a joke if it ever was.

      • RexAlan April 14, 2017 at 4:17 am

        … Which is why the term climate change was invented so now anything is proof of mankind’s meddling in nature.

        I once heard Bill Clinton joke that Al Gore would blame the sunrise on global warming. Unfortunately I can’t find a link.

      • I had a friend tell me last night that she was having nightmares about the end of the world and that humanity had only 100 years left, I kid you not. I tried to calm her down but I’m not sure how successful I was.

        Did you try quaaludes? Several strong gin martinis? A slap across the face?

      • These guys of AGW were rather wrong. Warmer climate means more rains. While colder one means more droughts.

    • CAGW will cause dryer and wetter conditions simultaneously. Hotter and colder too. Like in “The day after Morrow,” the planet will get so hot that it freezes instantly

  3. I am beginning to think that somewhere there is a weather god, who is deliberately mocking the AGW crowd.

  4. It’s the bloody weather, not climate. Regardless blame any anomaly on the vagaries of CLIMATE CHANGE as defined by the intellectually challenged. I am so over the BS the warmist idiots self justification for their mental deficiencies. As archaeology shows us, the south American Indians experienced huge variability with devastating results on their culture. Climate is naturally highly variable, get used to it.

    • Weather is an atmospheric reading at a point in time by a particular instrument. Climate is a pronoun that modifies weather. Climate is the probability of that particular event occurring. Climate is weather, and as a pronoun modifies the term weather. They are not two nouns.

      • Weather is the data that you measure – climate is what you get when you take the weather data and smush it all together using a set of statistical assumptions (which may or may not apply and which you rarely ever analyse) and then make all kinds of pronouncements like “above average”.

        If you have no rain for 4 years and then 5m of rain in one year, what is the use of quoting the arithmetic mean to say that 1m per year is “normal”?

        Yes, this is an extreme example, but it doesn’t matter what “climate” metric people are quoting, it is a statistical construct made using assumptions – not data and most certainly not a “fact”. There are very, very few climate facts floating around – and a lot less data than people would care to admit.

    • “Climate is naturally highly variable, get used to it.”

      Especially here in California where normal is bouncing between extremes.

      Last summer was rather cool here in the Sierras and I expect this summer to be even cooler since it will take a while for the snow to melt and significant solar energy will be reflected away. By this time of year, you can usually see the ground where I am at about 6200′. There’s still 6-8′ of snow here and since it rained on it earlier in the season and has since frozen solid, it will take a while to melt. It will make great corn snow for skiing over the next few months.

  5. Is there nothing that AGW cannot do? worst drought, highest rainfall? Most idiotic president? It is clear we must stop emission by simply slaughtering everybody who talks different or looks at us funny.

    It stands to reason, dunnit?

    A skilfully engineered genocide is the answer to everything.

    • Not so sure about the rest of your statement, but it seems “most idiotic president” is a moving target that is aimed at by every subsequent president.

  6. Don’t forget: Before the last century of official record keeping, California was periodically deluged with massive flooding which was much worse than this current period.

    “Geologic evidence shows that truly massive floods, caused by rainfall alone, have occurred in California every 100 to 200 years. Such floods are likely caused by atmospheric rivers: narrow bands of water vapor about a mile above the ocean that extend for thousands of kilometers.” [….]

    “In 1861, farmers and ranchers were praying for rain after two exceptionally dry decades. In December their prayers were answered with a vengeance, as a series of monstrous Pacific storms slammed—one after another—into the West coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. The storms produced the most violent flooding residents had ever seen, before or since.

    “Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. ”


    • Here’s a link to an 1890 doc about floods and drought in California before official records (EXCEPTIONAL YEARS: A HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA FLOODS AND DROUGHT by J. M. GUINN—https://www.jstor.org/stable/41167825?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents).

  7. This is weather whiplash people, and it’s serious. The children just aren’t going to know what stable weather is.

  8. Precipitation is just the manifestation of surface heat rejection. That cooling the CAGW acolytes assume to be radiation is actually dominated by convective mass transport. Furthermore, until the vapor condenses, their vaunted thermometers cannot quantify the energy as it is latent heat.

  9. Don’t you know, this is more proof that climate change causes “extreme weather” which is defined as the most rain, drought, snow, wind, or stillness “on record”. The key to successful climate science is to keep that record as short and as vague as possible.

    • The key to successful climate science is to keep that record as short and as vague as possible.
      Enter Berkeley Earth with its scalpel technique….. No record is too pristine not to slice into a dozen fragments.

  10. It is not over yet either ; Both Euro & GFS indicating another 2-5″ of precip int he next 2 weeks

  11. RexAlan’s account of his terrified friend believing in the prospect of the end of the world within a hundred years is a very real problem I experienced working in a school with pupils who expressed a belief in imminent calamity because of environmental catastrophe. And not because of anything prompted by teachers I hasten to add, but in a variety of class subjects and work.
    I think this psychological damage inflicted by the Green activists and organisations is one of the most disgraceful parts of the whole climate scare. I wish someone would sue them for trauma and distress in the USA where they might be in line for a financial kicking. In the U.K there would be little prospect of mounting such a challenge.
    How can anyone regard these alarmists as anything other than scare-mongering fraudsters.
    What young people should be told is that the world’s future is something to be hugely optimistic about if we stop damaging our progress and economies through irrational anti-science greed motivated hysteria.

  12. Good, now all they need to do is make sure the meltwater this season is directed to the large reservoirs specially built to even out wet and dry years.
    Oh, wait…

  13. Takes a goalpost, walks it where the buck is. Drops it casually there.

    ‘Hey, we never said there will be no rain. This is climate weirding as mentioned in doi, doi, and doi. Where’s the peer reviewed consensus literature there would not be rain? Fake news! Trump is weirding climate! We need to prepare for drought by taxing trucks. It can be shown poor people are hardest hit!’

    …hehe… takes a cab to the airport.

    /sarc, for some you need this ..

  14. When I lived in California I heard some people say the downside of the plentiful rain was that the vegetation growth that occurred would be a bigger fire hazard when the drought comes. They know that this rain then drought has always occured.

  15. We have 7.4 billion kilometers of local devastation in our region of space, scarred moons, devastated planets, and large areas of rubble. This occurred billions of years ago.
    It’s very unlikely it will be repeated in the next 100 years no matter what the Al Gore types tell us.

  16. The graph is curious, in that the prior record years (both high and low) appear smoothed, but this year does not. The short spells between storm systems appear vividly (short horizontal sections) in this year’s graph. Has there been a change in the measurement methodology?

    • Looks like the prior record lines were cumulative by month, and this year is cumulative by day.

  17. Nothing can calm the climate crusade. The hysteria from the leftist’s mob of progressives demands their elected leaders attempt to legislate the weather. They do not care if the problem is real or if the remedies can help.
    That’s the nature of hysteria.

  18. Peter writes much about California’s drought. Not much lately.
    But in September before the year of wet.
    Wishful thinking won’t end California’s drought

    Then during the first part of the wet in January.

    A Wet Year Won’t Beat California’s Never-Ending Drought

    • Drought or flood it matters not to the bureaucrats.
      CA officially changes footing when the Drought Control Board has its office door repainted to: Flood Control Board.

    • ” And while the wet year may end the “precipitation drought,” higher and higher temperatures and a persistent “snow drought” are here to stay.” ~ Pete the prophet ; )

  19. Holly Cow.
    The cult of CAGW have a Pinocchio problem and/or they need to get their eyesight checked.

    Why is there no mention of the immense blob of cold water in the Pacific?

    What could have changed (hint it’s the sun) to cause the change in ocean surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean to cause a massive increase in rainfall on the west coast of North America?

    The fun is not over. There is more come.

    April 13, 2015


    April 13, 2017


  20. It is interesting that the graph of rainfall totals only goes back to 1922. Surely there are older records, but they might contradict some claim the reporting agency is making.

  21. Years ago, the warmists admitted that global warming would mean increased rainfall and milder storms. But then it became like Hitler and you could never, ever say anything good about it no matter how obviously true.

  22. Who, dear readers, are going to stop the madness of everlasting money- suck at taxpayers expense which helps no one, not even the “liars”.

    • vukcevic, would you please post a cumulative of the “above/below”. And perhaps a trailing 30/year window sum. I think a fair estimate for the 2016-17 season should be added to the curve to put this year into perspective.: cumulative to date + average of (may+june).

      Personally, I don’t know whether LA has had a wet or dry year as most of the rain and flood news we get is about Northern CA and the Sierras.

      From here in Houston we just smile when LA reports flooding trouble when they report 1.5 inches of rain in a day. We can get that in half an hour. Annual rainfall in Houston is 53 inches with a range from 70 to 35 (and a really bad 24 inch outlier in 2011). http://www.weather.gov/hgx/climate_graphs_iah

  23. Let’s see global warming causes droughts, it causes floods, it causes no change.
    Bases covered, now, let’s regulate the world and get that wealth transfer running full speed. There are sticky fingers who need the cash to pay for their mansions and servants.

    • They have a solution, those altruistic progressives (usedtobe democrats). They have had a solution since they were young; all of their friends & associates have shared the similar visionary concept that they can provide a solution. They want to help; they want to help you.

      Some of them have waited a lifetime, picking away at minor issues, biding their time until they could step up to the plate with the grand solution to the previously unknown problem. Finally, now, an acceptable problem has surfaced for which they can come together and apply their solution, and you sarcastically insinuate that they are simply being greedy and manipulative.

      True altruism can never be fully appreciated by those that haven’t been carrying the burden of an unused solution for the bulk of their lives.

  24. The Al Gore effect . Produce another climate horror flick and the weather just shreds it .
    La Nina ? Climate changes … who knew ? What is Brown going to soil himself about now ?
    Time to solve some real problems or are they out of his pay grade . Easy to fight the phantom
    climate farce instead of out of control government spending and pension insolvency issues .
    Enjoy the rain California Mother Nature is still running the show and not climate fear mongering pimps .

  25. drought interrupted every 5 to 10 years by truly exceptional weather events is still a drought.

    It stops being a drought when you have a return to a regular rainfall pattern…

    If you eat all your meals on Thanksgiving, are you still getting a balanced diet?

    [Gosh, I almost deleted this comment because of it’s sheer stupidity, but then again, people need to see just how “Griff” has bird-brained thinking. – Anthony]

    • Dear Griff

      ”Droughts and flooding rains” is the regular weather pattern in areas with a Mediterranean-type climate (like e. g. California).

      But be patient, it will pass. In just 40 million years California (or at least the part west of the San Andreas fault) will have moved north and been scraped off onto southern Alaska and then you won’t have to worry about droughts.

      • The long island that will form off the North American Pacific coast some 50 million years from now will triple the amount of beachfront property here.

      • And long before the island breaks free from North America, the northern movement will produce a long, beautiful peninsula, sort of a negative image of Baja at the opposite end of the fault.

        The process is already visible at Pt. Reyes. Drake’s Bay is the precursor of this future gulf. Maybe the Sea of Drake rather than Sea of Cortez.

      • Pt. Reyes is a bit of the Tehachapi Mountains, which divide southern California from northern.

    • What counts as “regular”? The average rainfall regime of the Holocene?

      Extreme Late Holocene Climate Change in Coastal Southern California

      CSULB, 1999


      Finds protracted droughts during the Medieval Warm Period, but dramatically increased moisture levels during the LIA. Since warm periods were the rule during the Holocene Climate Optimum and prior interglacials, CA suffers droughts during most of interglacial time, while enjoying wetter conditions during centuries-long cooler spells. Big ice ages of course are a mixed bag, with the globe generally drier, but parts of CA enjoying pluvial conditions.

    • to me Griff that sounds like a very normal weather pattern in a semi desert like climate zone. That’s the climate of California: semi desert – like arid.

      but i guess that’s something you didn’t learn at school yet 😉

  26. This is not so surprising, as nature has a habit of strong rebounds. In the UK, the famous drought of 1975/6 was followed by an epically wet winter. Of course over here, our extremes are less extreme than Californian ones.

    Three years of low rainfall and you will be back in drought though. Go look at 50 years of data and you will see what is obvious…..Californians need to talk and do habitat regeneration for the next 80 years, with the emphasis on letting nature do the work….

    • The habitat around here, Northern central Cal. has not actually been damaged much, rtj . . drought years generally mean low precipitation, not none . . and the habitat(s) are already adapted to that. The media might make it seem like we’ve been watching devastation unfold, but in reality it’s just been kinda dry . .

    • (It’s perfectly normal to get little or no rain for six months or more, so in a sense there’s a drought every year ; )

    • averaging weather into a “climate” is never a good thing

      Also in Belgium we got extremes but as we are in a temperate climate they are less pronounced.

      in 2016 we saw the wettest first half year with trupet blaring in the media that it was due to climate change, followed by a dry second half with the media claiming the same.

      the full year? a very normal average year.

    • rtj1211 April 15, 2017 at 1:42 am
      This is not so surprising, as nature has a habit of strong rebounds. In the UK, the famous drought of 1975/6 was followed by an epically wet winter.

      You must be mistaken.
      There was no such thing as “Climate Change” back in the ’70’s. 😎

      “Climate Change” didn’t happen until things cooled down after Wirth shut off the AC for Hansen’s testimony about the dangers of “Global Warming”. 😎

  27. In Green-speak, routine weather events are always a “disaster” or at least “unprecedented”.
    If they persist or stay the dominant events through a season, they became “permanent” until the next season’s events have the opposite effect. Then the new conditions become “permanent”.
    In other words, in “Green-speak”, a “permanent” condition that prevails for only for a few weeks is “temporarily-permanent” but if it prevails for a whole season then it is “permanently-temporary”.
    (And, of course, all are caused by Man.)

  28. This season is not necessarily unusual. Anthony’s dataset is the northern Sierra. I like San Francisco, where the data goes back to 1850. Admittedly a single point, but a pretty god proxy, lying as it does about the middle of the state.


    You can see that 1982-3, the previous northern Sierra record year, was only the fourth wettest year in San Francisco. You can also see that unless we get an unusual spike for this time of year, and a severe deviation from the apparent trend, 2016-17 will be well below 1982-3.

  29. The “experts” pontificating at length not long ago…..”We have entered an era of permanent dryness, expect a drastic and or permanent reduction or elimination of precipitation all together”
    Well…..I dunno bout that.

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