May 20, 2019

Should California Be Renamed the Evergreen State?

Times change and recent meteorological trends suggest that Washington State should pass on its title of the Evergreen State to the more deserving State of California.   Washington State could become the Golden State, which makes sense with the vast sagelands and wheat fields of eastern Washington and the dry conditions over western Washington.

OK, let's make the case for the switch!  Here is the percent of normal precipitation since January 1st over Washington State. Much of the Cascades, western Washington, and northeast Washington received only 50-70% of normal.  Ouch.

But California, the supposedly Golden State, has been uniformly wet, with large areas enjoying more than 200% of normal precipitation.

Who had more precipitation since January 1st, San Francisco or Seattle?    San Francisco, of course, with 18.31 inches compared to Seattle's lowly 13.71 inches.

Snow in the mountains?  Skiing into the summer?   California peaks have been buried in the white stuff and CHAINS have been required over major mountain passes.  Some CA ski areas plan operations into July!

California's reservoirs are full of water.   Washington State reservoirs are ok, but well below capacity

This situation is not temporary--there is no end in sight.   The latest forecast from the European Center for accumulated precipitation over the next week (below) shows plenty of wet stuff over the Sierra Nevada and northern CA (1.5-4 inches), with some of that precipitation extended into normally arid eastern Oregon.

Washington State?  The arid leftovers, with most of the state getting a few tenths of an inch (with a bit more over the Cascades).

So what is going on here?  Why is Washington State and California exchanging places?  The key issue is the anomalous upper level flow pattern, with the jet stream heading into California, plus an usually persist trough of low pressure somewhere around CA.

A very revealing diagnostic was created by National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy of the San Diego office.  It shows the difference from normal of the height of 500 hPa surface (thinking of it as the difference from normal of pressure at around 18,000 ft).  Unusual ridge of high pressure east of British Columbia, but a band of much lower than normal pressure heading into California.  Striking. 

This pattern pushes a strengthened jet stream southward into California.  And things are NOT going back to normal soon.  The upper level (500hPa) forecast map for 2 AM Tuesday shows the jet stream (where the lines are close together) heading into California, with a low pressure areas moving southward into northern CA to its north.

Fast forward to 8 AM on Sunday.   An area of low heights/pressure moving into California. Clouds and precipitation will extend over the southern part of the State.

The second half of May 2019 will be the wettest in CA history for many locations.

California is going to be green for a while.  And the fire season in California and Oregon is going to be seriously delayed. 


  1. In the late 50s, there was a summer that was so dry, wells were drying up in August here in Whatcom County. My dad was afraid the well on our dairy farm would go dry, although it didn't. I remember the weatherman, Bob Fortune, on CBUT in Vancouver drawing a huge high pressure area of the coast of Vancouver island. He used chalk on a black board with a map of the west coast superimposed. The map of the high off BC reminded me of Bob Fortune's chalk map.

    Is it possible we are getting a recap of the pattern for that year? 1958 sticks in my mind, although I am not sure.

  2. I have followed CA weather for more than 40 years and cannot recall seeing this wet of a pattern in late May for Southern California during that time. Sometimes NorCal gets hit in May or even into June, but this is quite exceptional for Southern California.

  3. I'm not sure what the groundwater situation was in the Whatcom County lowlands in 1958, but I've gathered the annual mean flow (streamflow) records (cfs) for the USGS Nooksack River gauge nearest to Glacier, 1938-2017, and produced a graph. (I'm a water commissioner who's lived her for more than 45 years, I've observed the ups and downs first-hand.) This graph includes the 1950's, and there was a dip around 1958. But clearly there's a gradual long term trend upward. I've put a PDF of the graph in my dropbox (link below), and I suspect that lower-B.C. (Fraser River) data is similar to what we've seen here. "Just sharing."

  4. Interesting... Visiting family here in LA and woke up yesterday, Sunday, to pouring rain and low clouds! Reminded me of Seattle in November. Thankfully, the sun was out by 1pm and all was good. Most of the locals are baffled by the cool, wet weather but appreciate what it does for the vegitation. The plants/trees down here look very happy!

  5. From my end.... This is troubling .
    How do we escape this
    From a Midwestern fan

  6. Recently several times while viewing the UW NW radar site the precipitation is coming from east to west over the cascades. Its very strange to see it do that around here.

  7. But what about California's "never ending drought?" Oops, I guess the global warming cult got that one wrong, didn't they? Not that they'll ever admit it. After all: You can always tell a "progressive," but you can never, never ever tell a "progressive" a single thing!

    How long will it be until fraudster Peter Gleick blames global warming for too much rain in California?

  8. Based on the advice of the Department of Ecology, the Governor has greatly expanded the previously announced Washington drought declaration:

    This is based on a number of factors, including projected stream flows and the very low snowpack in Washington. The Washington snowpack continues to decline well below normal levels. Oregon faces the same problem with all of the Cascades quite low. These are some of the Washington figures for April 1, May 1, and May 21:

    Olympics: 75%, 78%, 33%
    Central Puget Sound: 66%, 60%, 21%
    Upper Columbia: 84%, 77%, 59%

    People who minimize this are just putting their heads in the sand. Here is a link to today's western snowpack update report:

  9. Looking at the comment threads of the past few blogs, especially any that mention California, I am struck by those who say "you can't tell (insert target) anything" are so often themselves impervious to conversation and logic. They have an agenda and nothing, repeat, nothing is going to change it. Others will do what they want, but I suggest keeping that in mind before expending any energy on them.

  10. I think we should start planning for Armageddon. Seems to be the only rational thing to do at this point.

  11. @MAC, quick! Give up your cars, your Ubers and your Lyfts, your airplane trips to climate conferences, your appliances, your heating and conditiong, your lights, your cooking, and anything that has been mechanically cultivated, mined, manufactured, delivered, or preserved. That includes your iPhone that was shipped over here from China on a diesel-powered boat. Come on, will you people ever do your part to combat the global warming that has -- finally -- taken it out on the progressives of the Puget Sound? Heed the warning!!

    p.s.: Meanwhile, the rest of the West is swimming. It's Gaia's judgment!

    1. Lmao this is stupid. You're telling me that I need to get rid of everything because it hurts the environment.

      There is one huge flaw in that statement: you haven't accounted for alternative energy. It's fine to have an iPhone that gets shipped over on a carbon neutral boat, and it's fine to get food grown on a no till farm (look it up), and it's fine to get heat that comes from the wind.

      In previous comments you have referred to climate change supporters as being a part of a cult. That is dead wrong. For one thing, it's perfectly rational. There has been a change in the climate. This change coincides with carbon concentrations increasing, something KNOWN (an honest to god fact) to be a factor in climate change. You look outside - fires, hurricanes, and drought are increasing while crop yields, snowpacks, and whole species are disappearing. It's irrational to ignore the world around us - why are you?

      Plus, if you insist on believing your baseless information, at least get your terminology right. According to MANY studies, 80% of Americans believe in climate change. That's roughly the same as those who believe in Christianity, which isn't a cult (probably; I mean, why else would there be so many people believing in it?)

      FYI: I'm not a progressive, I'm a centrist. You know, the same ones.

  12. Cliff, this post seems to contradict your May 13th post which attempted to reassure us that Washington wasn't in as bad shape as the media was portraying. You're right, the media thrives on doomsday headlines when reality is more nuanced. But I'm wondering if what you said in your 5/13/19 post, regarding WA state, - "These worries are not realistic. The upcoming wet period, which has been forecast for days, should moisten up the whole area. The eastern side of the state had plenty of precipitation during the past winter and streamflow/soil moisture is fine there." - still holds?

  13. Placeholder says:

    "the rest of the west is swimming!"

    This is framing fallacy. By taking on the framing of "the West" as proposed by this Blog, the west is only everything from the 49th parallel down to San diego. While you have to draw a line somewhere, these are very arbitrary lines, general political in nature, certainly not geoclimactic.

    For instance if you include BC and Alaska in your "West" then no, the rest of the west is hardly swimming. A tad dry actually.

  14. I don't know, all the newspapers say California is in a horrible drought, never ending.

  15. Cliff,

    Is there a chance that upper level high pressure anomaly near BC creates the FOB? (Father of Blob) Warmer sea surfaces due to less mixing that resulted in the warm summers of the recent past?

  16. Chaos Theory is completely applicable to the weather. There are cycles on top on cycles, each with a different wavelength, and each with chaos built in.

  17. @Sulla, yep, you'd hate to expend energy on your cult's failed predictions. Not just the permanent California drought, but the permanent Texas drought, the (non) increase in hurricanes and tornadoes ... it goes on and on. Not to mention the Seattle "progressive" condemnation of Cliff Mass for refusing to lie about global warming, or the widespread faking ... er, "adjusting" ... of historical temperature data.

    Facts be damned when you're a religious zealot with a political agenda.

  18. @MAC in Bellingham, it's true we are in a drier than normal spring pattern. But this is certainly not unprecedented. We have seen dry spring patterns in the past including as recently as last year with the record dry May as well as 2015 where the snowpack was far more dire than this year. In 1992 we had a very dry Spring and it lasted into the summer and in the 80s we had a couple of real dry Spring patterns. The early 2000s (2000-2001 water year and also Fall 2002 and 2012) and 1986 and 1987 saw the worst droughts I can remember and it usually effects us the most in late summer or Fall, coming off a dry Spring and summer and on top of that the fall rains are delayed. That's when it could get serious for water shortages. Let's cross that bridge if and when we come to it. Even in 2015 that summer saw alot of rain in late August that saved the day and a wetter than average water year in 2015-16.

  19. @commonthrob, you're just another Seattle "progressive" masquerading as a "centrist." Is that what you people want to call yourselves now?

    Oh, and you don't know what "no till farming is." I realize that you can always tell a "progressive," er, "centrist," but that you can never tell a "progressive" "centrist" anything, but I'm going to tell you anyway. No-till farms use plenty of energy. They don't plow every year, but inject seeds through the prior year's plant detrius. Look it up, "progressive centrist."

    Fires have increased because your cult banned salvage logging the forest thinning. Hurricanes and tornadoes have decreased, but your cult lies about it. Crop yields have increased, but you lie about that. Drought has not increased, but hey, when you lie about everything else, why not lie abvoyut that too?

    Always fun to talk to another Seattle "progressive" who knows absolutely nothing but will lecture to us anyway!

  20. @Cornonthecob, you're right: You can keep 17% of what you have, because that's the share of U.S. electricity generation that comes from alternatives -- including hydro dams, which your crowd wants to dismantle to save the salmon. But you'll still have to give up 100% of your food, because that's not cultivated electrically at all. And you must give up any vehicle that's not electric, and 83% of your Tesla. And, "centrist," there is no such thing as a "carbon neutral boat," regardless of any fairy tale you want to spin.

    As for whether Americans "believe in climate change," if you really want to know what Americans think, you're much better off to ask them what they'll pay for, and how much. The news isn't very good for the "centrists" of Seattle.

  21. @Bruce Kay, you do crack me up! Keep believin', brother! Testify!

  22. Interesting battle. My thinking is there would be less of an ideological dispute if there were more tangible data (direct measurement-observation) + certainty that facts aren't being cherry picked + certainty that theory isn't over-weighting and overwhelming data-driven models (ensembles, etc). I think the vast majority of humans instinctively want honesty and fairness.

    I heard a great saying a long time ago about boating: "You can't get to where you're headed, or live long on a boat, if you try to steer by watching the wake." (Eyes front!) Things do change naturally; there are cycles; and this planet is careening through the universe coupled to a star (the Sun) with an attitude.

    That said, predicting weather, much less climate, is a bear (to be polite). I deeply appreciate the tireless effort Professor Mass puts into trying to explain and improve even short-range predictions. None of us (even the youngest who blog here) will live long enough to KNOW "how this all turns out." Argue that the end is near, but at least acknowledge that "tomorrow" is always theoretical till you get there. <--based on observation

  23. @GlacierBake, there is plenty of tangible data. The cult either ignores it or "adjusts" it. Here's a fact: The various urban readings, taken largely at airports, are strongly biased upward by the urban heat island effect. You know, all that concrete? The rural stations in North America show long-term temperature declines. But hey, when the facts contradict the religion, what's a cult to do but throw out the facts?

  24. @Placeholder

    The purpose behind no till farming, for my argument, is that the practice stores carbon in the soil. Since plants take it out of the air, no till means that carbon goes into the ground and gets stored there. In addition to reducing greenhouse emissions, it also causes crop yields to increase because the soil is more fertile. Sounds crazy - look it up before lecturing me about it, though. Gotta know your stuff before arguing with "progressive centrists" such as myself!

    I do agree about the thinning of forests. That's a stupid thing we've done, and we're paying the price.

    Hurricanes: Go to this link:

    Tornadoes: Not increasing, but you'll notice I didn't mention them, did I? I could talk your ear off with the reasons why they aren't, but I'll just stick to lecturing you on your "facts".

    Drought: Take a look at this delicious link: - feel free to refute it, there's more evidence I could give you.

    17%: Washington State, the state in which I live, gets 80% of its electricity from renewable energy. We don't want to dismantle the dams, there are ways to allow dams and salmon to coexist. Fishing is a large industry in Washington, Oregon, basically the entire West Coast (including BC and Alaska), and we want to keep that. Pick your poison, if you must, but I'd pick neither.

    100% of food: I'm not sure, what is this argument supposed to accomplish? If food isn't being cultivated electronically, then why worry? Seems like someone forgot to think about things for a minute. Besides, even if food was being cultivated electronically, the way we'd do things is we'd get everything over to renewable energy. Boom. Problem solved.

    Electric vehicles: Yeah, that's true. We would need to take away our gas powered cars. Luckily, electric vehicles only cost slightly more than conventional ones, and those prices are going down steadily.

    Want to know more? Check out this link here: If we were to make the switch now, we'd only need to pay 20% more on our energy costs - pretty small, huh? And that price would go down over time because as it turns out, it's pretty easy to build renewable power plants and selling energy over to other regions (an actual thing, look it up).

    I can rant like you all I want about politics, but it doesn't change facts. Besides, isn't it Ben Shapiro who says "facts don't care about your feelings"? The lovely little Conservative. Pretty sure he believes in climate change.

    Feel free to reply - I've got time.

  25. @cornonthecob, you know nothing. No-till agriculture preceded your doomsday cult. It is a soil conservation measure. There are pluses and minuses to it, but it was never an energy issue. Look it up.

    Your cult wants to dismantle the dams. Your Seattle city clowncil long ago passed a resolution calling for it. Look it up.

    Unlike you, I own an electric car. I will forget more than you know about them. You lecture. I know.

    You are a stereotypical know-nothing Seattle "progressive." Tell us, are you in your 20s?

  26. US electricity generation, 2018

    Fossil fuels: 63.5%
    Nuclear: 19.3%
    Renewables: 17.1%

  27. Cliff - it would be good if you asked people to stay on topic and refrain from ad hominem attacks.
    There are frequently good educational comments in response to your posts but the increasing number that simply consist of name-calling to deride someone with a different opinion, lifestyle, etc. results in a far less intellectual discussion.

  28. @Placeholder -

    Go over my comment again. Really read it through.
    That should help you understand where I'm coming from.

  29. @John Franklin, leave it to Another Seattle "Progressive" to call for censorship -- which is ironic given all the vicious name-calling that your cult has engaged in for years, including that directed at Cliff Mass. You people are losing the battle, and as a result you are increasingly desperate. Censorship is a loser's last redoubt.

  30. John Franklin, in my view, is right. You haven't given a real response to any of the opinions I or anyone else has had, you've just insulted us. And that's not productive.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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