Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Deluge in California

Some areas of California will experience the wettest second half of May in the historical record.  Inches of rain will fall in the lowlands and several feet of snow will pile up in the high Sierra Nevada.


The accumulated precipitation forecast for the next five days provided by the European Center is stunning, with roughly 5 inches in the high terrain and even two inches in San Francisco.   This is a time of the year that California is normally quite dry.

Looking forward ten days, the totals get even more impressive.  Moderate precipitation even gets down to LA, and some mountain locations will experience 6-9 inches.

Want to be impressed? Most of California will be hit by MORE THAN 500% of normal precipitation (see below)


And some of the high Sierra Nevada will see 2-3 feet of snow.


Let me reiterate, this is a period when California is normally quite dry.  To demonstrate this, here are the historical probabilities of getting 2 inches in 7 days in San Francisco. Has never happened in late May before.  It WILL this year.   Other sites show the same thing--this kind of heavy rain in late May is very, very unusual, if not unprecedented.



The implications of this liquid bounty is enormous.  California's reservoirs are not only way above normal, many are nearly up to capacity (see below)


Soil and fuel moistures are above normal and the heavy rain and massive snowfall will push off wildfire season by several weeks at at minimum and quite possibly more.    This is very good news for us in the Northwest, since we received substantial smoke aloft from California during the past two years.  Expect less of that unwanted California import this summer.

And although California will get for more than our region, plenty of rain will make its way up to us.  The forecast precipitation total for the next 48 hr is substantial, particularly in the central and northern WA Cascades, where snowpack totals were low (see below).   Expect soil moisture and streamflows to move upward substantially there. 

And more will fall after that.






28 comments:

  1. But wait! Didn't the Cult of Anthropological Global Warming tell us that the California drought would never end? Who do we sue?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/10/us/california-drought-water-restrictions-permanent.html?_r=0

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  2. Oops, "anthropogenic." Dang them big words. I'm just a stupid climate denialist, so how can you expect me to know them?

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  3. @Placeholder

    They might very well be wrong about hydrological drought (reservoirs, lakes...), and meteorological drought (rainfall totals), but they are almost certainly right about a trend towards agriculture drought (soil moisture).

    California is getting hotter, but precipitation is not keeping up. Look at it this way: on a hot summer day you need to give your garden EXTRA water compared to a cooler day. If it doesn’t get that extra water, the ground dries out and plants suffer.

    From a big picture point of view, the trends show that California’s surface area is not getting the extra water it needs for soil moisture to remain at normal levels. Normal defined by the average of a designated base period. Sure, the picture is great right now (and will be great at other times in the future), but this is a weather event. Climate change is about trends.

    The problem of agricultural drought is most pronounced in the summer months, a big reason for California’s increasing wildfire risk.

    *I have FACTS to back this up, noting your comment on Cliff’s last post.

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  4. @Snape, I see that "progressives" cling bitterly to their global warming religion, and to their gun control.

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  5. Actually Placeholder this is entirely consistent with the latest forecast of future weather due to climate change:

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/california-extreme-climate-future-ucla-study?_ga=2.109248389.1413508066.1524493062-951236037.1524493062

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  6. The rain sounds good to me!

    I met a young woman visiting Seattle today. She was originally from France but lives in London. It was amusing when she asked if we had as many words for rain as they do in the UK saying "drizzle" rather contemptuously.

    I said yes, we probably do. Let's see there is misting, sprinkle . . . cats and dogs . . . pouring . . .

    Cliff, I am sure you know more than I do.

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  7. @Snape:

    Soil moisture depletion is due more to extraction and diversion than rising temperatures -- more a cause of higher surface temperature than an effect. The San Joaquin Valley has seen as much as 28 feet of subsidence since the 1920s.

    And yet, looking at long-term stations at Woodland, Davis, Madeira, and Visalia, mean max summertime temperatures have been declining 0.2F - 0.6F per decade since 1926, and there hasn't been a record high set since 1961. On average, summer days are not getting hotter, and annual rainfall trend is flat. So where is your evidence for increasing drought due to climate change?

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  8. @Placeholder - You fixed Anthropogenic, now replace "global warming" with "climate change", or consider "disruption" and you will be caught up. Good Job! (=
    Extreme weather is of course a predicted symptom of ACD, and this impressive event lends itself to that line of prediction. Great news for the reservoirs and its water user's, for the time being!
    Interesting information on soil moisture @Snape, and of course spot on with climate trends.
    Thanks!

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  9. @Snape,
    "From a big picture point of view, the trends show that California’s surface area is not getting the extra water it needs for soil moisture to remain at normal levels."

    Do you(or anyone else)have any data to back that claim?

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  10. Heard your forecast on KNKX this morning. I couldn't help but wonder what is happening in Canada and its boreal forests, as it was Canadian and even Siberian smoke we were experiencing in Seattle last summer before the fires got going good in eastern Washington. Because our prevailing winds are from the N, NE and NW in summer, doesn't it matter more what is going on rain-wise north of us than in California?

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  11. Placeholder
    A garden needs more water when it’s hot. The owner’s political views don’t matter.

    https://climate.ncsu.edu/edu/Evap

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  12. Placeholder,

    It's not a religion. Religion is a set of beliefs that are held without strong evidence. Climate science is backed up by observations. While not all scientists come to exactly the same conclusion, the vast majority if people who study climate have come to the conclusion that it is changing. Remember, these are professionals.

    If nine out of ten doctors told you that you had cancer, my guess is that you would go in for treatment. By analogy, that's how it is with anthropogenic climate change.

    BTW, Gun control has nothing to do with it.

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  13. I got nearly an inch and a half of rain at my place in the convergence on the Mill Creek line overnight. And it's still coming.

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  14. A major function of reservoirs is for flood control. With California's reservoirs full or close to it they won't be able to store water to reduce downstream flooding. Normally water managers let reservoirs get low during the winter so they have the capacity to absorb spring runoff of snow melt. It seems there is potential for this system of storms to cause some major flooding.

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  15. Only one thing worse than drought for a farmer and that's getting rain at the wrong time. This California deluge is coming at cherry ripening time ruining what was to have been a record crop. At this stage, rain causes cherries to swell and split. Not only is the appearance destroyed, but more importantly damage from fungus and mold. The two other large sweet cherry producing states are Oregon and Washington where predictions are for a bumper crop with picking starting around mid June.

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  16. @Nutso fast
    “Soil moisture depletion is due more to extraction and diversion than rising temperatures -- more a cause of higher surface temperature than an effect. The San Joaquin Valley has seen as much as 28 feet of subsidence since the 1920s.”

    You’re seriously mixing up ideas. Nobody is extracting water from the soil. The San Joaquin Valley is an area of intense agriculture, and farmers there use wells to extract water from aquifers BENEATH the soil. That’s why the area has been sinking.

    **********
    The heavy reliance on irrigation is also why the San Joaquin Valley is bucking the summertime temperature trends of California’s forested regions.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/phys.org/news/2017-04-cooling-effect-agricultural-irrigation.amp

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  17. Lt. Lothar Zogg
    “Do you(or anyone else)have any data to back that claim?”

    Many, many examples. Best come from areas with recent severe fires. Last year’s Carr Fire was in Shasta County:

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

    *********
    Shasta County, precipitation trends:
    1895 - 2018
    February - May: + 0.09” /decade
    June - September: - 0.01 /decade

    1970 - 2018
    February - May: + 0.35” /decade
    June - September: - 0.32” /decade

    It’s been getting wetter in Spring, drier in Summer.

    ********
    Shasta County temperature trends:
    1895 - 2018
    June - September: + 0.2 F /decade

    1970 - 2018
    June - September: + 0.6 F /decade

    As you can see, getting hotter in summer months.

    ******
    This comes from NOAA’s interactive product, “Climate at a Glance”/
    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/county/time-series/CA-089/tavg/4/9/1895-2019?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000&trend=true&trend_base=10&firsttrendyear=1970&lasttrendyear=2019





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  18. I’m just an amateur, but experts have come to the same conclusion:

    “Westerling identified a clear link between changes in temperature, length of fire season and areas burned over time.
    Carbon Brief has compared spring and summer temperatures in the western US to forest fire area, similar to an analysis in Westerling’s paper, but updated through to present. As the figure below shows, there is a strong relationship between temperature (black line) and fire extent (red bars), with warmer years generally having higher fire extent than relatively cooler ones since the early 1980s.”

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-global-warming-has-increased-us-wildfires/amp

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  19. @Ansel, study the scientific method. When the predictions embedded in a hypothesis fail, the hypothesis should be discarded. The predictions in the AGW hypothesis have largely failed, but its followers cling bitterly to their religion and their guns (control).

    @einsteinstoe, there is no support for your, ahem, claim that there's more extreme weather now than in the past. In fact, your cult's predictions with respect to tornadoes have hurricanes have failed quite spectacularly, yet you cling to the religion.

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  20. Re: Rain in May and cherries. I live in the Columbia Gorge, and know several orchardists. Rain at this time of year is bad news for cherries, but it is hardly rare. They have wind generators in the fields -- you see them all over the orchards -- and sometimes hire helicopters to blow the water off. My point is that I hope no one in the AGW cult tries to use their religion to explain any of this.

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  21. Placeholder .
    “@Ansel, study the scientific method. When the predictions embedded in a hypothesis fail, the hypothesis should be discarded. The predictions in the AGW hypothesis should be discarded.”

    If you add a few extra Spades to a deck of cards, odds are your hand will have more Spades than the other three suits. This is something has become statistically more likely.

    You are dealt 11 cards:
    3 Hearts
    3 Clubs
    3 Daimonds
    2 Spades

    Does that prove the claim is wrong?

    *******
    Regarding those climate hypotheses, I wouldn’t totally accept or “discard” any of them so soon.

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  22. Snape: "...mixing up ideas."

    We're not talking Ogallala Aquifer here. Groundwater once existed close to the surface and sprung from artesian wells. Now some wells go down 1200 feet. Subsidence is relevant.

    "The heavy reliance on irrigation is also why the San Joaquin Valley is bucking the summertime temperature trends of California's forested regions."

    Which you demonstrate with a computer model in an article that doesn't mention the San Joaquin Valley.

    The modeling sounds sensible, but your claim is specious. Temperature reduction from irrigation isn't cumulative. The Valley has been under irrigation a long time and irrigated acreage has been pretty stable since 1980--probably much longer for UCDavis farm.

    Long-term stations are few and far between in forested regions, but summer mean max temperatures at Mineral and Huntington Lake are pretty flat since 1915. At Huntington Lake (elev 7020 ft), record high temperature was in 1925, precipitation trend is flat in summer, rising in spring, fall, and winter. Perhaps such inconvenient data is why the station stopped reporting temperature in 2010.

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  23. I mean, prevention of AGW creates literally millions of jobs and eliminates air quality and pollution threats. So even if you don't believe in the climate changing, it's still good for us to try to stop it.

    Just saying.

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  24. @Snape, you are no different than a Puritan in Salem. You are a fanatic, determined to burn the witch.

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  25. Nutso
    “The modeling sounds sensible, but your claim is specious. Temperature reduction from irrigation isn't cumulative. The Valley has been under irrigation a long time and irrigated acreage has been pretty stable since 1980--probably much longer for UCDavis farm.”

    You’re right about the not cumulative part. I looked up “San Joaquin Drainage”:

    June - September
    1895 - 2018 Min: + 0.03 F/decade
    1895 - 2018 Max: + 0.01 F/decade

    This is consistent with irrigation cooling the daytime highs.
    Max and Min are stable since1970, both at + 0.6 F/decade. Same as average for California as a whole.

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/divisional/time-series/0405/tavg/4/9/1895-2019?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000&trend=true&trend_base=10&firsttrendyear=1970&lasttrendyear=2019

    ********
    “precipitation trend is flat in summer, rising in spring, fall, and winter.”

    Yes, you are confirming my original argument, that summertime precipitation trends have not kept up with temperature trends, meaning the data is actually very convenient. Of course, the San Joaquin Valley gets watered in summer and has few forests, and therefore of little relevance to the conversation in the first place.


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  26. Whoops, should be:

    June - September
    1895 - 2018 Min: + 0.3 F/decade
    1895 - 2018 Max: + 0.1 F/decade

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  27. @Placeholder
    You remind me of some people that frequent Roy Spencer’s blog. I had some fun:

    Flynn is a nutter
    Huffy is a nut
    The two share a room
    In Gordon’s little hut

    The hut is made of stone
    On a cold and windy knoll
    Perfect for a nut
    A nutter and a troll

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  28. @ Snape, you're a good Seattle "progressive." No one can tell you a single thing. You dismiss the evidence right in front of your eyes. You cling bitterly to your cult.

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