The California drought: Will it rain this winter in SoCal?

It's a big question. Talk to anyone who works on the land in Southern California and you'll hear discussion of El Niño, rain, winter, drought, scientists who can't agree– and so on. 

I set out to get to the bottom of it last month for the Ventura County Reporter, and (dare I say) succeeded as well as could be reasonably hoped. Not that the comments on the piece reflected that: any mention of cllimate change brings out the cranks, I guess. from the chemtrail people to the climate change deniers. 

But the real news is that in the short-term, the consensus looks decent. We will have rain this winter, scientists agree

What's troubling for SoCal is the long-term prediction — increased dryness. Yikes. 

Here's the start: I'll put the kicker below the fold. 

"The last 12 months (from September 2013 to September 2014) have been hotter than any other 12 months in the 113 years that reliable temperature records have been kept in California, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The last three “water years” have also been the driest such period in the state’s history, NOAA says. The term U.S. geological Survey “water year” in reports that deal with surface-water supply is defined as the 12 month period for any given year through September 30 of the following year. As a result the entire state is in drought, and Ventura County — like all of the central coast of the state — is in category 5, or “exceptional drought,” the worst of all possibilities.

[here's an image drawn from data collected by the pair of satellites known as GRACE, which shows how California is drying out as the level of available water below ground sinks]

GRACE_b

El Niño 2014 October forecast: Glass little over half full

NOAA released its October outlook for our winter, based on ocean temperatures, and continues to find a 60-65% chance of the appearance of the boychick. Here's my fave set of graphs today, from another site, and here's my fave single graph: These are tempeartures taken across a section of the equatorial Pacific, the vast belt acrossContinue reading “El Niño 2014 October forecast: Glass little over half full”

CA drought hits home — in Upper Ojai

Or, to be precise, the drought hits my backyard. Yesterday the second of two enormous oak trees that have fallen in the same area in the past month came crashing down. About a year ago an even bigger and more beloved oak in vicinity split apart and fell. Here's a basic phone pic that givesContinue reading “CA drought hits home — in Upper Ojai”

Anterra violates Ventura County permit routinely: State

According to public records available at the agency known as DOGGR (Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources) the injection wells at Anterra in unincorporated land have routinely violated the amount of oil field fluids they are allowed in put into the Oxnard Plain by the county.  The conditional use permit allows fluids from 24Continue reading “Anterra violates Ventura County permit routinely: State”

Why is Oxy spinning off new California oilco?

One question regarding this news from last week (reported in the LA Times): A little more than a month after filing documents to spin off its California operations, Occidental Petroleum Corp. has named the leadership team for its proposed subsidiary. The longtime Los Angeles company announced in February that it was moving its headquarters toContinue reading “Why is Oxy spinning off new California oilco?”

Ojai “too conservative” w/water: California DWR

From a panel discussion I covered, here's a fascinating anecdote from Steve Wickstrum, who has managed Ojai's Casitas Municipal Water District for many years. Ojai actually is doing okay with water through the drought right now — unlike many communities in the state. According to Wickstrum, Casitas water costs about $400 an acre-foot, which isContinue reading “Ojai “too conservative” w/water: California DWR”

Climate change a factor in the new war in Iraq: Expert

From another striking climate change story from Eric Holthaus, complete with superb photos: "Could there be a connection between climate change and the emerging conflict in Iraq? The short answer is a qualified yes, according to Frank Femia of the Center for Climate and Security, a Washington-based policy institute advised by senior retired military and nationalContinue reading “Climate change a factor in the new war in Iraq: Expert”

Harvesting the California drought: gold and wood

On the front page last Sunday the LA Times ran a story about how the drought — three years old in California, and now rated "severe" or worse in 100% of the state — had led to an upsurge in gold panning in streams and rivers. Such as the Kern River.  Researchers said last week thatContinue reading “Harvesting the California drought: gold and wood”

Looking to past droughts to foresee CA’s future

The past is never dead. The past is not even past.  When William Faulkner wrote that, he was thinking of human history, but it's true on here on planet earth as well. Cycles repeat. For that reason, and because they were troubled by the drought they saw in the deep time record, paleoclimatologist B. LynnContinue reading “Looking to past droughts to foresee CA’s future”