Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Near-record temperatures in the low 70s are expected today and Sunday in Santa Rosa, creating ideal conditions for enjoying the great outdoors but also adding to concerns that California could be in for an even longer drought.
Today’s forecast high of 72 degrees would fall just short of the record of 73 degrees, while Sunday’s projected high of 71 is a ways off the 76-degree record. Both records were set last year, the hottest in state history and the third year in the now four-year drought.
Read more via Warm weekend to flirt with records, but drought | The Press Democrat.
Tony Barboza, LOS ANGELES TIMES
California’s drought crept in slowly, but it could end with a torrent of winter storms that stream across the Pacific, dumping much of the year’s rain and snow in a few fast-moving and potentially catastrophic downpours.
Powerful storms known as atmospheric rivers, ribbons of water vapor that extend for thousands of miles, pulling moisture from the tropics and delivering it to the West Coast, have broken 40% of California droughts since 1950, recent research shows.
Atmospheric rivers are key to California’s rainfall.
"These atmospheric rivers — their absence or their presence — really determine whether California is in drought or not and whether floods are going to occur," said F. Martin Ralph, a research meteorologist who directs the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
The storms, which flow like massive rivers in the sky, can carry 15 times as much water as the Mississippi and deliver up to half of the state’s annual precipitation between December and February, scientists say. Though atmospheric rivers are unlikely to end California’s drought this year, if they bring enough rain to erase the state’s huge precipitation deficit, they could wreak havoc by unleashing floods and landslides.
Scientists using a new type of satellite data discovered atmospheric rivers in the 1990s, and studies since then have revealed the phenomenon’s strong influence on California’s water supply and extreme weather.
via California drought could end with storms known as atmospheric rivers – LA Times.
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa is on track to post a third straight abnormally dry January, historically the wettest month of the year, as California’s drought moves into its fourth year.
A light sprinkle Friday dropped 0.07 of an inch on Santa Rosa and brought the month’s total precipitation to 0.08 of an inch, with 0.10 to 0.20 of an inch more expected over the weekend, Accuweather meteorologist Ken Clark said.
If the forecast holds up, Santa Rosa would avoid breaking the rain-poor record of 0.10 of an inch set in 2014, on the heels of a meager 1.16 inches in January 2013.
But with no rain in next week’s forecast and a chance of some showers the following week, hopes for putting a dent in the drought now shift to February, Clark said. Water storage in the state’s major reservoirs and the Sierra Nevada snowpack are far below average.
Asked what’s in store for February, Clark said it “depends on whom you ask.”
“The rest of the winter,” he said, “is iffy.”
Santa Rosa typically gets 7.05 inches of rain in January and 6.4 inches in February.
The city’s last significant rain was about one-third of an inch on Dec. 20, and December overall delivered a welcome 14.49 inches, more than double the month’s 7.03-inch average. Since Dec. 21, Santa Rosa’s rainfall is about 2 percent of normal, Clark said.
via Another dry January? Winter’s wettest month failing to | The Press Democrat.
Guy Kovner & Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Could it be 2012 all over again? That’s the year Santa Rosa was drenched by nearly 10 inches of rain in December before Mother Nature abruptly turned off the tap, continuing the three-year drought that still hasn’t ended, despite another soggy December.
With rain falling on 13 of the month’s first 15 days and now totaling 10.64 inches, folks who may be tiring of cloudbursts, gray skies, umbrellas and last week’s atmospheric river could well be wondering if the drought is done.
Not until the Sierra is blanketed in snow and the state’s major reservoirs are full, water managers said Monday, noting that neither of those drought-busting conditions is close to reality.
“We’re having a great, wet December. It’s fantastic,” said Brad Sherwood, spokesman for the Sonoma County Water Agency, which delivers Russian River water to 600,000 customers in Sonoma and Marin counties.
The latest storm dropped 1.3 inches of rain on Santa Rosa during the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Monday, and more rain is expected to hit the area today and Wednesday, potentially bringing an additional 2 inches, the National Weather Service forecast.
But California, with 80 percent of the state under extreme or exceptional drought last week, needs sustained precipitation through the winter and spring to make up for a 36-month shortfall.
Read more via Is California’s drought over? (w/video) | The Press Democrat.
Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Thursday’s deluge caused sewage spills in four areas of Sonoma Valley as well as one location in Penngrove, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said.
Large amounts of untreated wastewater was overflowing from manholes onto various byways, including along Highway 12, at the intersection of Valletti and Cassabella drives, and on Fourth Street East at East Spain Street in Sonoma near Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. In Penngrove, the sewage overflow was near the intersection of Ely Road and Old Redwood Highway.
“In Sonoma Valley, we have an older system with 50-plus-year-old pipes,” said Ann DuBay, a spokeswoman for the Water Agency. “So when a lot of water gets in there, it starts to overflow.”
DuBay said the problem was caused by Thursday’s heavy rains. Normally, about 4 million gallons of sewage and water is sent to the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District, where it is treated. Runoff from the storm increased the flow to 14 million gallons, DuBay said. The district serves 17,000 households and businesses in the area.
Sonoma County officials are advising area residents to stay out of the stormwater, because of potential health and safety hazards.
via Stormwater floods wastewater system in Sonoma Valley and | The Press Democrat.