Bright and cold this early Monday on California’s north coast, the last day of pure-sunshine for at least a week or more — a series of three ‘atmospheric rivers’ are inbound, maybe starting tomorrow afternoon, and ‘a vigorous cold front‘ will accompany that first round Wednesday night.
Rain make drought go away? Hopefully — Jay Lund, a water resources analyst at the University of California, Davis, talks it up: ‘“I think overall we’ve gotten through this drought amazingly well…I think things will be a little bit worse … than they are now, but not necessarily catastrophic…We shouldn’t be panicking about this. We should be thinking about it, but not panicking.”’
If it was just the weather, maybe, but nowadays there’s way-too much shit in the air…
(Illustration found here).
Especially with the event scheduled for this Friday — if the last few weeks are any indication, and all the way up to this very second as I type on my laptop, the drain-suck of the growing-ugliness of the T-Rump experience is forcing me to pass from ‘thinking about it, but not panicking‘ yet, to full-blown hysteria…
Meanwhile, some details on California’s drought, and all those storms we’ve encountered this season via Grist yesterday:
Storms known as atmospheric rivers funneled moisture over California over the past week, bringing days of intense rain and snow.
Rainfall totals reached more than 10 inches in some areas, while snows reached more than eight feet in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountain range (including a stunning 15-foot total at Mammoth Mountain).
The statewide snowpack is 161-percent of normal levels for the date and nearly three-quarters of the way to the average for all of the winter season.
That abundant snowpack is a stark contrast to the measly 6-percent of normal levels at the end of winter in 2015 — likely the smallest snowpack in 500 years.
The mountain snowpack is crucial for the state because it supplies roughly 30 percent of its water, topping up reservoirs as it slowly melts during the dry spring and summer.
It’s not unusual for California to have dry years followed by wet ones; in terms of its hydroclimate, “it’s one of the most variable places in the U.S.,” Ben Cook, a climate scientist with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.
As the world, and therefore California, continues to warm because of the excess heat trapped by human emissions of greenhouse gases, that variability could become more intense.
“Even if precipitation doesn’t change … the temperature effect is going to be changing the system,” Cook said.
For one thing, when dry years do occur, they’re going to be drier than they would be today because higher temperatures increase evaporation.
“It means the droughts, when they occur, are going to be that much deeper” and the recovery from them that much more difficult, Cook said.
Researchers have already suggested that warmer temperatures (which have risen by about 2.7 degrees F, or 1.5 degrees C, since preindustrial times globally) helped to worsen the drought of recent years.
California had its hottest year on record in 2014 and its second hottest in 2015.
Warming also means that when storms hit in the future, more of their precipitation is likely to fall as rain rather than snow, diminishing the snowpack that is so crucial to storing water through the dry season.
This trend is already evident: Since 1949, 68 percent of weather stations between elevations of 2,000 and 5,000 feet have seen a lower percentage of winter precipitation falling as snow, according to a Climate Central analysis.
And we continue…enjoy the bright as much as possible.
Now for my walk to Safeway and back, morning electric…