La Nina is Back: Drought Ahead?

According to experts surveyed by the Sacramento Bee, the weather pattern known as La Niña is back again this year, and it's likely to bring us a third year of drought.  

This year's La Niña looks stronger and longer-lasting, said Bill
Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena.

"The
dice are pretty loaded here against a big snowpack and a heavy
rainfall," said Patzert. "But you know, this is one of those things
where I really love to be wrong."

Last year in Southern California the rainfall officially was in the "normal" range, but that's deceptive — virtually all the rain we received came during a period of three weeks in January, and that followed the driest water year in Los Angeles history. The New York Times alluded to this in a story yesterday:

“The worry is that La Niña does again what it did last year,” [said the state meterologist, Elissa]
Lynn, noting that the rainy season, which often lasts
through April, ended in February last year. “When we missed March and
April, we lost 20 percent of the normal precipitation.”

In 2008, runoff from the Sierras was 57 percent of normal flows; in 2007, it was 53 percent of normal.

Two or three good "Pineapple Express" storms could change everything for this year, but right now the soil maps are alarming. Here's a projection for April based on current conditions, from NOAA's soil moisture experts. The "ground truth" is that we're entering a drought now, with a correspondingly increased chance of high temps ahead.

Maybe that will change, but…

SoilsforecastforApril09

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