Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The bottom line is that California can get wet during an El Niño, but not always.
Firmly in the grip of a historic statewide drought, Sonoma County needs a deluge to offset the lack of substantial rain for the past year and a half; but there is no such prospect on the meteorological horizon, with the once-promising forecast of a strong El Niño season fading away.
Over the past 18 months, from January 2013 to June 2014 — the driest such period in California’s records — the state has amassed a rainfall deficit that exceeds 19 inches, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Santa Rosa’s deficit — the difference between actual and average precipitation — is nearly twice as large, at 37.26 inches.
That means it would take more than double the city’s average rainfall, or about 70 inches, this coming winter and spring to balance the shortfall in local rain gauges and break the drought.
It’s been three years, however, since Santa Rosa even matched its 30-year average of 32.2 inches, and the likelihood of a wet season that significantly beats that mark has waned, leading weather and water officials to speculate that the drought is likely to persist through next year.
“Many parts of California have missed out on nearly a year’s worth of precipitation, and it will take a long time to gain back that deficit even in a best-case scenario,” Daniel Swain, a Stanford University environmental science graduate student, said recently in his California Weather Blog.
via Winter forecast for drought-busting rains fades | The Press Democrat.
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
This summer is not yet halfway over, but already the record book has been reset.
California has posted a record high average temperature during the first six months of this year, exacerbating a prolonged drought and sending North Coast residents flocking to swimming pools and ice cream shops.
Wildland firefighters, unable to find relief while battling more than 3,600 blazes, have suffered life-threatening heat-related illnesses that sometimes required helicopter evacuation.
“It’s serious business,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean said, noting that dehydration takes a toll on personnel in almost every major fire.
The hot weather also has further depleted the state’s reservoirs, boosting public water consumption as well as natural evaporation, which equals the annual draw from Lake Sonoma — the main Russian River reservoir — by a city of 53,000.
via Amid drought, state breaks another record for temperature | The Press Democrat.
Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, SFGATE.COM
Relief may be on the way for a weather-weary United States with the predicted warming of the central Pacific Ocean brewing this year that will likely change weather worldwide. But it won’t be for the better everywhere.
The warming, called an El Nino, is expected to lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes and more rain next winter for drought-stricken California and southern states, and even a milder winter for the nation’s frigid northern tier next year, meteorologists say.
While it could be good news to lessen the southwestern U.S. drought and shrink heating bills next winter in the far north, "worldwide it can be quite a different story," said North Carolina State University atmospheric sciences professor Ken Kunkel. "Some areas benefit. Some don’t."
Globally, it can mean an even hotter year coming up and billions of dollars in losses for food crops.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Nino watch Thursday. An El Nino is a warming of the central Pacific once every few years, from a combination of wind and waves in the tropics. It shakes up climate around the world, changing rain and temperature patterns.
via Here comes El Nino; good news for US weather woes – SFGate.