California’s Wild Weather, Wet or Dry, is Nothing New

These mega-droughts and mega-floods all occurred well before ‘climate change’ was blamed for every weather event

Previously published in The California Globe, December 13, 2021 12:44 pm

For those wondering about the recent heavy rains in the west, going from drought to deluge in a few short months, here’s some data and history to illustrate that it is nothing new, and it has nothing to do with the claims of a “climate change” influence.

Before the industrial revolution, electricity, eight lane highways, and gas-guzzling SUV’s, there was a 43-day rainstorm that began in December 1861 that put central and southern California underwater for up to six months.

The highest rainfall ever in California during recorded history likely occurred in January 1862, during the “Great Flood”. This was an atmospheric river event like we are experiencing now, but lasted several days, dumping 24.63 inches of rain in San Francisco, 66 inches in Los Angeles, leaving downtown Sacramento underwater.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

“Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.”

Infographic: The science behind atmospheric rivers (NOAA)

That’s exactly what is happening now, and exactly what happened in 1861-62.

The photos below are Lithographs of K Street in the city of Sacramento, California during the Great Flood of 1862 The flood affected the Western United States, from Oregon through California, and Idaho through New Mexico. 

Inundation of the State Capitol, city of Sacramento, 1862.
(Photo: The Online Archive of California: California Digital Library.
Copyright © 2009 The Regents of The University of California)

Today, the same Central Valley areas that were submerged in 1861-62 storm are home to many of California’s biggest cities. It is sobering to note that a great flood of similar magnitude can happen again; all we need is a sustained atmospheric river event like that one. It isn’t a matter of if, but when.

In fact, in a publication by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2013, it was noted that, “Geologic evidence shows that truly massive floods, caused by rainfall alone, have occurred in California about every 200 years.”

“Scientists who created a simulated megastorm, called ARkStorm, that was patterned after the 1861 flood but was less severe, found that such a torrent could force more than a million people to evacuate and cause $400 billion in losses if it happened in California today.” 

If we have another weather event like 1862, California would be crippled.

If California had more water storage, some of the flooding could be mitigated, unfortunately, the last major new reservoir built in California was the New Melones Reservoir, on the Stanislaus River in Calaveras County, in 1979. Apparently, we’ve learned nothing from events of the past, be it drought or deluges.

There have been other deluge events, though none as large as 1862. December 20, 1955, had huge amounts of rain in 24-hours, with Shasta County recording a record 15.34 inches in just one day. On December 23, 1955, the Russian River reached a crest of 49.7 feet in Guerneville, the highest ever recorded there, and a broken levee along the Feather River on Christmas Eve flooded Yuba City, drowning 37 people.

And then there was the Lake Oroville Dam failure in 2017 that was the result of a days long atmospheric river event, which resulted in precipitation totals greater than 150 – 200% above normal for many Northern California locations.  According to a scientific paper published in Geophysical Research Letters about that event:

“In February 2017, a 5-day sequence of atmospheric river storms in California, USA, resulted in extreme inflows to Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir. Damage to the reservoir’s spillway infrastructure necessitated evacuation of 188,000 people; subsequent infrastructure repairs cost $1 billion.”

That was just a 5-day event, imagine what would happen to California if it was 10, 20, or even 40 days long like what happened in 1862. But, anecdotal evidence suggests such events go back a very long time.

The American River Watershed Project noted that Native Americans who’d lived for centuries in the region “knew the Sacramento Valley as an inland sea when the rains came,” and their “storytellers told of water filling the valley from the Coast Range to the Sierra.”

On the flip side of our wet weather, drought, there is evidence of droughts in California lasting as long as 200 years.

Timeline from 800 AD to present showing dry/wet periods in the Western USA. (Photo: Data from E.R. Cook et al published in Earth Science Reviews, chart by Karl Kahler, Bay Area News Group with annotation added by Anthony Watts)

The chart above uses data from the 2007 E.R.Cook et al. study  showing severe droughts lasting as long as 200 years going back to 1200 years ago. Meanwhile, at the far right, the drought we’ve experienced in the 21st century is clearly evident and minuscule by comparison.

Clearly there have been long-lasting severe droughts in the Western USA long before the modern occupation of California. California’s weather patterns are clearly at the whims of what patterns occur in the Pacific Ocean, which can have long-term pattern changes lasting decades. One, called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), only became known to science in the 1990’s. NOAA says, “…it is often described as a long-lived El Niño-like pattern of Pacific climate variability. Extremes in the PDO pattern are marked by widespread variations in the Pacific Basin and the North American climate.”

These mega-droughts and mega-floods all occurred well before “climate change” started being blamed for every weather event. Imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth from “woke media” and keyboard warriors if those events occurred today.

The bottom line is this: climate is what you expect, weather is what you get. California should plan for major weather events in the future, be they wet or dry, by improving and hardening our reserves and infrastructure.

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Climate believer
December 14, 2021 6:05 am

Good article, this sort of information can’t be repeated enough.

Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2021 6:06 am

“If California had more water storage, some of the flooding could be mitigated”

The enviros now hate dams.

“The American River Watershed Project noted that Native Americans who’d lived for centuries in the region “knew the Sacramento Valley as an inland sea when the rains came,”

And the Valley once was a sea- not sure when, any geologist would know that and when.

garboard
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2021 6:57 am

in 1862 the central valley became a lake 300 miles long 50 miles wide and ten feet deep . yikes !

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2021 7:39 am

Joseph,

Cape Town which also has a Mediterranean climate, illustrates why we have a people/political and not climate problem.

The biggest of 6 dams with 53% of total capacity was built in 1978.
Since then one smaller dam with 14.5% was built in 2007.
However, the population has trebled from 1.5 million in 1978.

On a positive note, despite dire predictions about permanent drought in Cape Town early in 2018, they have had four good winters with overflowing dams. The overflow could have filled a few more “new” dams in anticipation of drier winters.

Last edited 6 months ago by Michael in Dublin
John Tillman
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 15, 2021 6:18 am

The San Joaquin Valley was covered by a lake in the Pleistocene (and at times a smaller one in the Holocene), and by an arm of the sea in the Pliocene and Miocene:

https://geologycafe.com/geologic_history/miocene_late.html

What about this comment triggered moderation?

Last edited 6 months ago by John Tillman
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Tillman
December 15, 2021 6:47 am

it would be nice if we were told which words/phrases “trigger” the moderation- maybe your use of “triggered”

John Tillman
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 15, 2021 2:18 pm

The moderation occurred before I edited in the last sentence.

Tom Halla
December 14, 2021 6:06 am

The green blob will oppose any engineering solutions to the flood/drought issue, as they firmly believe that doing anything is morally wrong.

John Tillman
December 14, 2021 6:28 am

Over 4000 killed in CA alone, or one percent of the state’s population then.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1862

Extreme weather with a vengeance.

Ron Long
December 14, 2021 6:47 am

Good of you to put this report together, Anthony. The people who should read it will not, as they have an organized agenda in place and are going all out for the conclusion. In the US we have to wait at least until the 2022 elections, then some sanity will return. I hope everyone who places actual science in high esteem continues their effort.

Steve Case
Reply to  Ron Long
December 14, 2021 8:25 am

 In the US we have to wait at least until the 2022 elections, then some sanity will return.
______________________________________________________________________

I wouldn’t count on that, the methods used to install Joe Biden in the White House are being refined to insure installation of enough house and senate seats next November to insure Democrat control, perhaps enough to attain 2/3 majorities. They aren’t playing bean bag.

On a Google Search for “senator ron Johnson WI wiki

This comes up in order:

   Sarah Godlewski for US Senate – She Will Defeat Ron Johnson

   Who is Senator Ron Johnson – Someone Who Serves Himself

   Ron Johnson (Wisconsin politician) – Wikipedia

Obviously Google is playing politics.

Last edited 6 months ago by Steve Case
December 14, 2021 7:09 am

We have a ‘family photograph’ of the old ranch house that sat across US-101 from the big runway at Moffet NAS. It was taken shortly after the 1906 EQ and shows the house askew half-off of its foundation in the middle of an axle high puddle, axle high on the buggy also pictured.

Marcus
December 14, 2021 7:10 am

Anthony, little typo:
“There have been other deluge events, though none as large as 1862. December 20, 1955, had huge amounts of rain in a 24-hours” ( don’t need the “a” before 24 hours unless you change it to ” rain in a 24-hour period” ).

p.s. Great post, love the graphic of how atmospheric rivers work.
p.s.s. Can I get out of the dog house now ? Pleeeease……..

Jeff corbin
December 14, 2021 7:13 am

The drought/fires-deluge/floods/mud slides cycle so common to California means California really never had the carrying capacity for 40-60 million people (1933-6 million, today 40 million)…let alone 120 million. At some point the growth in the fast cash real-estate boom for profit and taxes had to reach it’s end. Building developments in hills and valley’s that repeatedly burned over the past several millennia meant someone had to pay. The only workable engineering solution was to remove the trees and put in huge fire brakes with massive green lawns, (not enough water for than) or pavement. No one was willing to pay that price, so now they blame bad fire and rain seasons on climate change. Between the fires and the torrents of run off roaring down the Sierra Nevada Mountains, (and it’s poor policy and planning) it is not surprising California is depopulating. The California boom reached it’s zenith because it’s carrying capacity was greedily pushed into unsafe territory..

Jeff corbin
Reply to  Jeff corbin
December 14, 2021 9:43 am

Responding to later posts about the lack of water storage. Californians hate seeing giant dams with no water in their reservoir during droughts. It becomes a fear mongering extravaganza showing the reservoirs empty. ‘Will the rains ever come???’. A system of water storage would have made large fire breaks possible: Pasture lands, golf courses, farming around developments could protect the developments from fire and flooding. Unfortunately, popping up ‘McMansionvilles’ in scrub country is just so much cheaper, profitable and keeps the taxes flowing ….instead of spending them to invest in the health and well being of the communities in fire country.

Jeff corbin
Reply to  Jeff corbin
December 14, 2021 9:47 am

It used to be that a picture was worth a thousand words. Now pictures are leveraged to tell a thousand lies….and it is so much easier to do so now. Everyone has a picture book in their hand that they are looking at 264 times a day on an average. Big money will always use fear to get what they want. Green logic is so easily leveraged by greedy people because it is idealistic instead of practical. It is never concerned with where and how people actually live and neither are greedy business and politicians..

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeff corbin
Carlo, Monte
December 14, 2021 7:15 am
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
December 14, 2021 9:44 am

I like the title to that article. 🙂

Doug S
December 14, 2021 7:38 am

Thanks for this bit of California history Anthony. Really interesting and painful to learn of the disasters that people went through in the past. The thing that puzzles me is how could these extreme weather events occur when the CO2 level in the atmosphere was so low compared to today?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Doug S
December 14, 2021 9:46 am

“how could these extreme weather events occur when the CO2 level in the atmosphere was so low compared to today?”

I think we have to conclude that CO2 doesn’t have much to do with extreme weather.

gringojay
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 14, 2021 10:16 am

Wait, Tom … you mean when this happened in California it wasn’t related to CO2?

DFABC41F-C021-4819-97EE-9DB20AE167C8.jpeg
Tom Abbott
Reply to  gringojay
December 15, 2021 5:58 am

Only Greta can see CO2. It’s transparent to everyone else. That smoke must be from something else, and since one guy is falling out of the van, I can guess. 🙂

Steve Case
December 14, 2021 7:41 am

California’s Wild Weather, Wet or Dry, is Nothing New
__________________________________________

That applies to just about everything claimed for “Climate Change.” The current claim is that December tornados are unusual, they are not, that this one was the worst, it isn’t, and that “Climate Change” is the cause, no it is not.

Forest fires (now called “Wild Fires’), droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea ice, moulins, warm sea water lapping at the ice caps, coral bleaching, sea level rise, etc. have all happened before or have been happening right along. And the polar bears are still here.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Steve Case
December 14, 2021 8:55 pm

The “forest fires” are called “wild fires” because in many cases the fires don’t occur in forests, but, rather in grasslands or scrub. “Wild fires” is the generic name.

philincalifornia
December 14, 2021 7:41 am

“it is nothing new, and it has nothing to do with the claims of a “climate change” influence.”

Well it could be due to a climate change influence, depending on how you define climate change.

How not to define it would be by use of the juvenile, baby-talking, libtard chant of “climate change” “climate change, waaaah” as in blah blah blah. You know, the one where the typical chanters can’t even differentiate carbon dioxide from their elbows.

Last edited 6 months ago by philincalifornia
Reacher51
December 14, 2021 8:07 am

For a short and interesting related read, I recommend Exceptional Years: A History of California Floods and Drought, written in 1889.

The piece begins with this amusing, and seemingly timeless bit of wisdom:

If there is one characteristic of his State, of which the true Californian is prouder than another, it is its climate. With his tables of mean temperature and records of cloudless days and gentle sunshine, he is prepared to prove that California has the most glorious climate in the world. Should the rains descend and the floods prevail, or should the heavens become as brass, and neither the former nor the latter rains fall, these climatic extremes, he excuses on the plea of exceptional years.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/41167825.pdf

Rud Istvan
December 14, 2021 8:17 am

A related California observation. Its last water storage dam, New Melons, was completed in 1980. That year, California’s population was 24.3 million. It is now 39.7 million, an increase of 1.63x without any increase in water storage. Self inflicted wounds.

Doonman
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 14, 2021 10:49 am

Yes, and the Auburn dam construction was abandoned in 1975 after spending $432,000,000 on it.

Thanks Jerry Brown. It’s an era of limits except on the border.

Bruce Cobb
December 14, 2021 8:27 am

You can’t just take away their “extreme weather” angle. That’s all they’ve got left. How dare you!
Deniers. Sheesh.

Vuk
December 14, 2021 8:29 am

Wild weather has always been around.
But what we have with this cataclysmic ‘climate change’ is global weirding weather, don’t you know, as a weird climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe tell us in one of hers ‘educational’ episodes:
https://youtu.be/xdpfK7qyLRM

Clyde Spencer
December 14, 2021 8:34 am

I particularly remember the Christmas flood of 1964 when the Hell Hole dam on the Rubicon River failed and the ensuing wall of water and logs took out 7 suspension bridges on the American River between there and Highway 49 near Auburn.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_flood_of_1964

Duane
December 14, 2021 9:02 am

What IS different now is development that did not exist in those prior centuries and millennia. Urban development creates vast areas that are impermeable (paving, buildings, other structures), and thus lead to greater runoff volumes and much higher flow rates in rivers. Other artifacts of human development include construction of levies that are intended to hold floodwaters back from natural flood plains, but which actually concentrate flooding downstream and also are prone to overtopping and/or structural failure. And of course the human development itself is subject to destruction due to flooding.

So whatever mega floods occurred in prior centuries in California and elsewhere is certain to be magnified today in our highly urbanized environment. This has vastly greater effect on the outcome of heavy precipitation events than does “climate change”, which has zero effect on actual individual weather events, no matter what the warmunists claim.

Kenji
December 14, 2021 9:10 am

Sorry. But I question the data and amplitude in the graph. I have lived in N.CA since 1955 and the chart suggests that drought has spiked in CA ONLY in the 2000’s and NOTHING before that (in my lifetime). That is pure rubbish. We had a SEVERE drought in the mid 1970’s … a drought that made the last 2-year sub-average rainfall a joke. “The Drought Monitor” is a joke and still has MOST of CA in a “severe” (catastrophic) drought. That’s utterly ridiculous.

Now … our droughts are judged by reservoir levels that are dumped for fish health, not human utility. Our droughts are now judged by underground aquifer levels as NEVER before. We can not have honest science without honest data … and the data is being manipulated for maximum ill-effect.

Duane
Reply to  Kenji
December 14, 2021 12:08 pm

Correct.

The media love to point to the dropping levels in Lake Mead … but Lake Mead is not just responding to temporarily lower snow pack but is also responding to increases in water demand to the population increases. Similarly, aquifer elevations are not just an artifact of precipitation input but also extraction of groundwater (“groundwater mining”) that is done to satisfy users of the water – primarily agriculture, and growing cities. The population growth, and thus water demands, of those states that depend upon the Colorado River as well as other rivers for water supplies over the last 60 years has been astounding. It’s not climate, it’s the continuity equation taught to all engineers:

The change in storage equals the initial storage minus the outputs plus the inputs. The warmunists always leave out the outputs and thus don’t maintain the continuity equation.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Duane
December 14, 2021 2:16 pm

You are correct about increasing Colorado water demand from population growth. But there is a confounding weather factor. The Colorado compact water allocation scheme was agreed during a period which, with the benefit of hindsight, was wetter than ‘normal’ for the river basin. Now it is dryer than ‘normal’. A double whammy.

meab
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 14, 2021 7:25 pm

Yes, read “Cadillac Desert” written by Marc Reisner in 1986. It covers the gross errors made in Colorado River allocations going almost back to the building of Hoover Dam in the mid 1930s. The book predates the current “Climate Crisis” scare and clearly established that the southwest has always suffered from extended periods of drought.

Kenji
December 14, 2021 9:19 am

https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pdf/current/current_CA_trd.pdf

Not to worry … most of CA is in the grips of the WORST state of drought in the HISTORY of droughts EVER to hit the State of CA. And mind you, this is AFTER a massive “atmospheric river – EXTREME WEATHER” event at the end of October that dropped >10” of rain to N.CA in about 24hrs.

Make no mistake … when (the FAKE) “Drought Monitor” publishes their updated CA DROUGHT!!!!! map this week … it will STILL LIE by claiming most of CA is in the grips of THE WORST, MOST SEVERE DROUGHT in the HISTORY of the State.

Meanwhile … my own rain gauge shows > 18” of rain since October with the promise of much more to come this week.

We are being LIED TO! by all the “Institutions” we are supposed to revere.

gringojay
Reply to  Kenji
December 14, 2021 10:12 am

Link says monitor is of “broad scale conditions”. I’m busy & haven’t investigated their own reference for determining those conditions.

My surmise is that among the drought monitor factors used is soil moisture and not simply rain gauge data. Rainfall and soil moisture level ratios can be different as rainy spells/seasons change. Assessing drought is historically orientated to agriculture conditions and I would not be surprised if soil moisture is accorded high relevance.

Waza
Reply to  Kenji
December 14, 2021 11:45 am

It’s important to understand the drought and flood are made up subjective concepts. Their definition is constantly changed and is used differently in different locations

Kenji
Reply to  Waza
December 14, 2021 12:40 pm

Absolutely correct. There is NO specific detailed definition of “drought”. And if one cares to (like “The Drought Monitor”) … they can publish really scary maps with lots of RED all over them. My comment isn’t “anti-science” or “anti data” … just the opposite … I’m for absolute data (not “post-smoothed”) and absolute transparency of METHOD … not just some disclaimer about how you consider “broad patterns of drought” and whatnot.

Kenji
Reply to  Kenji
December 14, 2021 1:01 pm

http://www.skimountaineer.org/MtnWebCams/Donner-MtnWebCams.html?size=med&nv=off

Pictures of what “The Drought Monitor” refers to as EXTREME and SEVERE drought. Why do we tolerate our “science” Institutions to LIE with impunity?

gringojay
Reply to  Kenji
December 14, 2021 3:01 pm

As I suggested above, and having now checked, for the Drought Monitor contributing factors they do assay precipitation and other resources, including incidentally “Mountain Snowpack”. The also use: Vegetative Drought Response Index, Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, Crop Moisture Index, Current Stream Flow, Soil Moisture, US & Global Soil Moisture Monitor, STAR-Global Vegetation Health Pictures, STAR-Global soil moisture monitors, and additionally an assortment of precipitation data sources.

Any of their current maps only reflects data collected up to the prior Tuesday. For an area of the current map showing any color code range that subsequently had a lot of rain on Wednesday will only be reflected in the following weeks map. Here is the link to sources of more information about the Drought Monitor = https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/About.aspx

Last edited 6 months ago by gringojay
Kenji
Reply to  gringojay
December 14, 2021 5:00 pm

I see … so >10” of rain throughout N.CA just 6-weeks ago … had NO impact on the FAKE drought … the EXCEPTIONAL and SEVERE “drought”.

BTW … Sacramento averages 18” of rain per year. So … VERY EARLY in the rainy season, Sacramento gets more than half of its yearly total in rain … and THIS is labeled (last week) as a SEVERE drought? Utter rubbish

Whatever “The Drought Monitor” is measuring … has NO basis in REALITY. Rather, they are a useful idiots tool used to claim; War is Peace, Up is down, and massive rainfall can NEVER erase the narrative. The narrative that claims CA is in a never ending “drought”

gringojay
Reply to  Kenji
December 14, 2021 3:24 pm

WUWT is not the target audience for the Drought Monitor. It is not a statistical model describing precipitation.

The Drought Monitor is not deemed a “LIE” by important governmental agencies with respect to farms. There are practical aspects for the economic circumstances of quite a few hard working people.

The USDA uses it for formal disaster declarations & eligibility for certain kinds of low-interest loans. The Farm Service Agency uses it to determine eligibility for livestock forage programs. The Internal Revenue Service accepts it as evidence to provide tax deferrals on forced livestock sales due to conditions beyond the ranchers control.

Kenji
Reply to  gringojay
December 14, 2021 5:03 pm

Oh! So the taxpayers are victimized by the drought monitor…

Kenji
Reply to  gringojay
December 16, 2021 7:24 am

OK … so another 1-day RECORD amount of rainfall in Sacramento had NO impact on The Drought Monitor’s FAKE never ending “SEVERE” to “EXCEPTIONAL” drought in CA. Sacramento received 2.3” of rain in 24hr on Monday.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/weather-news/article256583776.html

But The Drought Monitor’s FAKE map … shows the region in the WORST possible drought conditions.

https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

I don’t care how much “science” and “data” has gone into the publishing of this map. Because it is a LIE. Most of CA is NOT anywhere near “drought” conditions. That is REALITY. These dark-RED, scary, maps are LIES.

I also heard some newsreader claim we were STILL in a drought because the reservoirs were STILL so low. Gawwd … what a brilliant LIE … because reservoirs are always at their highest levels in MID-SUMMER … after the snowmelt … never in mid winter. Esp. after those reservoirs have been DUMPED to help the public “visualize” a FAKE two-year “drought”.

We are being LIED TO

December 14, 2021 9:25 am

Readers of this blog should not underestimate many effects of climate change. As Anthony demonstrates, the climate change affects weather long before it even begins.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Curious George
December 14, 2021 11:56 am

What came first, the climate or the weather?

Wade
December 14, 2021 9:32 am

Weather history is the mortal enemy of CAGW movement. Which is why they must adjust, hide, or deny the past.

Tom Abbott
December 14, 2021 9:52 am

From the article: “That [2017 atmospheric river event] was just a 5-day event, imagine what would happen to California if it was 10, 20, or even 40 days long like what happened in 1862.”

Listening to the alarmists whine for 40 days would be hard to take.

Last edited 6 months ago by Tom Abbott
Doonman
December 14, 2021 10:23 am

Medical amnesia occurs when a disease or injury damages neurons and prevents them from firing in the section of the brain where memory is accessed.

Social amnesia occurs when disease or injury eliminates voters who have been around long enough to experience events before and politicians start telling old lies to new voters.

Weather is just one of those events.

Remember, California’s Sierra Nevada dam systems were built to prevent valley flooding, not to provide water to residents.

Kenji
Reply to  Doonman
December 14, 2021 12:50 pm

And in addition to the Dams … the Sacramento River Valley has multiple flood control overflows and weirs …

https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/california_waterfix/exhibits/docs/STCDA%20et%20al/scda_54.pdf

And when the Oroville spillway washed out just a few years ago … prior to this current “worst drought in the history of CA” (sic) … I believe all the river overflows and weirs were FULL. But … according to the alarmists … it will take decades and decades of atmospheric rivers to refill CA’s underground aquifers. Now … it’s all about the aquifers. If the aquifers aren’t at some estimated prehistoric levels … then CA is in a PERMANENT state of drought. And every citizen MUST be PUNISHED $$$ for using water.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Doonman
December 14, 2021 2:15 pm

Actually, the earliest dams were built to provide water and power for gold mining. After hydraulic mining was outlawed, PG&E acquired some of them to provide power for the growing northern California population. Then they started building dams for flood control, agricultural irrigation, and recreation. Now, dams are being removed for spawning fish.

griff
December 14, 2021 11:56 am

Yes, but now the rain comes in heavy events in winter and not in summer.

Really, the pattern has changed.

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 11:59 am

I assume you have data to back up your assertion, Griff. Show it so us ignoramus’ may be enlightened.

gringojay
Reply to  Dave Fair
December 14, 2021 12:52 pm

Ze griff surely knows, but decided not to enlighten WUWT readers, that in the Californian North Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada it is December and January when those regions experience the wettest months (plural). Whereas come February is when there is the wettest month (singular) for the South Coast Ranges and the Transverse Ranges.

I guess we at WUWT should await ze griff to elaborate how rain storms called “atmospheric rivers” contribute more to the total seasonal rainfall in the northern 2/3 of California. And surely ze will be along to explain that during atmospheric rivers California coastlines that face south are exposed to what amounts to a horizontal low-level southerly jet generating higher wind speed upslope which locally causes greater hourly rate of precipitation.

meab
Reply to  Dave Fair
December 14, 2021 7:29 pm

He can’t come up with data because he’s lying, again. Everyone who has lived in California for any length of time knows that the hills turn brown in the summer and green in the winter and spring.

griff
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 12:39 pm
Alba
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 1:02 pm

Maybe griff has difficulty reading articles carefully. To quote from the article above:

Before the industrial revolution, electricity, eight lane highways, and gas-guzzling SUV’s, there was a 43-day rainstorm that began in December 1861 that put central and southern California underwater for up to six months.
The highest rainfall ever in California during recorded history likely occurred in January 1862, during the “Great Flood”. This was an atmospheric river event like we are experiencing now, but lasted several days, dumping 24.63 inches of rain in San Francisco, 66 inches in Los Angeles, leaving downtown Sacramento underwater.

Last time I checked, December and January are in winter in the northern hemisphere.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Alba
December 14, 2021 2:39 pm

Pictures of the 1854 grist mill built near Knights Ferry, along the Stanislaus River, and destroyed in the 1862 flood. It was well above the river. At least 30′ if memory serves me right.

https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=knights+ferry+flour+mill&iax=images&ia=images

Editor
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 1:28 pm

Some of the “historic wildfires” were arson fires which the Graniad ignores, and the heavy rain events have been repeated many times in the past.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Sunsettommy
December 14, 2021 2:43 pm

Things are not what they used to be.

“In recent years these trespass operations have been the cause of major wildfires, destroying homes, lives and watersheds. According to research done by the Cannabis Removal on Public Lands Project, trespass grows have burned a minimum of 285,000 acres on California’s public lands, costing billions in suppression efforts.”

https://news.yahoo.com/combat-illegal-marijuana-grows-stanislaus-130000341.html

Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 6:30 pm

Utter bs. I live here in NorCal and the rains have not been anything but light to moderate, no downpours to date. We had snow several nights ago, maybe about 8 inches. Then the rain the next night quickly melted all of the snow at lower elevations. You suck up those lies and then spread them further with your comment.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 2:18 pm

That is the way it has always been! California has what is called a Mediterranean Climate. You might be dangerous if you actually knew anything.

Kenji
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 5:06 pm

We used to get heavy rains in the summer? In CA?

John Tillman
Reply to  griff
December 15, 2021 7:00 am

CA gets very little rain in the summer.

comment image

Last edited 6 months ago by John Tillman
December 14, 2021 12:28 pm

People have known about Pretty Da** Obvious (PDO) for eons.
When it was wet it was PDO, when it was dry it was PDO, just wasn’t peer reviewed yet.

Kenji
Reply to  outtheback
December 16, 2021 7:37 am

You mean back when The Drought Monitor wasn’t using satellite imagery and photo-chromatography to calculate the amount of “green” and the “hues” and “values” of “green” to calculate CA’s leftist “never-ending” FAKE “drought”?

Or when underground aquifers were measured to certify “drought” … Nevermind the agricultural drawn down of those aquifers because politicians withheld surface water allocations.

otsar
December 14, 2021 4:19 pm

in 1982 there were severe rains that caused a major deadly land slide in Love Creek, in the Santa Cruz mountains.
In 1962 there were severe rains in Pacifica, California, that produced a mud slide that killed some children when their bedroom was destroyed.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  otsar
December 14, 2021 8:39 pm

I lived on Love Creek during the Winter of ’63-’64 on 100 acres of second growth redwood. The owner of the property had intended to build a large house on the hill above the apple orchard. However, after he removed all the trees, the hill started to slump, with escarpments up to 8′ high. He was so discouraged that he and his wife decided to spend a year traveling in Europe. That is how my wife and I had an opportunity to live there.

A few years later, around 1967, after the owner of the property got tired of the small, frequent landslides on the unpaved access road, he offered a logging company the rights to log the trees above the cabin, where the spring was located that provided water for the cabin, in exchange for a concrete bridge across the creek, allowing a second access point. On Christmas Eve, the hill behind the cabin failed and pushed the cabin into Love Creek, while he and his wife were sleeping in the cabin. He died the next day from a heart attack when he saw what had happened.

Much of the Santa Cruz mountains are landslides waiting to happen because of the poorly consolidated sandstones and heavy Winter rains. It is mostly the roots of trees that stabilize the hillsides. The 1982 event you mentioned was a small subdivision downstream that had been cleared of trees to make room for the houses.

December 14, 2021 6:26 pm

We are certainly having a good rain season this year. There is snow accumulating at higher elevations as well as moderate rain falls over the last 6 weeks. The current 10 day forecast is for some rain or snow on every day. A cold wave is just moving in off of the ocean. Temps here will be in the low 20s F. … https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/500hPa/overlay=temp/orthographic=-118.41,40.52,774/loc=-122.560,40.667

John Hultquist
Reply to  goldminor
December 14, 2021 6:50 pm

“We” = Whiskeytown, CA ???

observa
December 14, 2021 8:40 pm

There have been other deluge events, though none as large as 1862. December 20, 1955, had huge amounts of rain in 24-hours, with Shasta County recording a record 15.34 inches in just one day. On December 23, 1955, the Russian River reached a crest of 49.7 feet in Guerneville, the highest ever recorded there, and a broken levee along the Feather River on Christmas Eve flooded Yuba City, drowning 37 people.

An interesting time-1956 Murray River flood – Wikipedia

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  observa
December 15, 2021 7:56 pm

More recently, there was an unprecedented flood event in January 1997 when a Pineapple Express flash melted the snow around Bucks Lake, above the sparsely-vegetated Serpentine Canyon on the Feather River.

https://cnrfc.noaa.gov/storm_summaries/jan1997storms.php

Last edited 6 months ago by Clyde Spencer
Bruce Cobb
December 15, 2021 8:26 am

The Climate Liars don’t do History. Or Math. Or Science. Or facts, logic, or truth. They are inconvenient.

David Ingraham
December 15, 2021 6:08 pm

Evidence is easy to find by examining the tree rings of old cut redwood trees in Muir Woods. the closer the rings together are indication of low water years, the further apart the rings show more growth due to high water absorption.

Kenji
Reply to  David Ingraham
December 16, 2021 7:42 am

Excellent! Now let’s run THIS experiment … measure those rings for every year “The Drought Monitor” has claimed Muir Woods (a virtual rain forest) has suffered through “SEVERE” “drought”. Wanna bet you’ll find a 180 degree disconnect? I do.

Don Whiteley
December 16, 2021 7:36 am

We were told growing up in the foothills east of Oroville that the 1955 Yuba City flood was the catalyst for the construction of the Oroville Dam. It’s three main goals were flood control, irrigation and recreation. Anyone who grew up in Cali has seen plenty of floods, drought and wildfires, not to mention earthquakes.

Kenji
December 16, 2021 9:15 am

What you need to believe … to agree with California’s “never-ending drought” …
https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/pdf/current/current_CA_trd.pdf

That RECORD rainfall and snowfall from October to mid-December has had ZERO impact on California’s “never-ending drought” … that > 18” of rain in 2-1/2 months has had NO impact on lessening the “drought”.

The longer CA can pretend there is a “pandemic of drought” … the longer the Proles can be punished and controlled. After all … “drought” … is an “existential health threat” … Right?

People born in this State know better. We KNOW when the “science” and “data” of ‘The Drought Monitor” are FAKE. Designed to deceive.

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