Friday, January 17, 2014

A Picture Tells the Story. We're in Big Trouble Out West.


It's a terrifying picture. We have been through 12 of the driest months ever recorded in California, and there is no relief in sight. One can tell we are in trouble when the only part of state not suffering a crippling drought is Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. The rain totals thus far in the Central Valley are at Death Valley levels.

A persistent high pressure belt has been diverting the winter storms north. They are then barreling through the central and eastern United States, causing moronic senators and representatives to bellow about how global warming/climate change is somehow an elaborate hoax designed to hurt their benefactors in the fossil-fuel energy business. If a snowstorm disproves a century of careful research by thousands of climatologists, what are we to make of the worst drought ever in California, and horrific heat waves in Australia and Argentina? It's been in the middle to high sixties here at home these last few weeks. If that makes my friends who are shivering back east a bit resentful, just consider what it's going to be like out here in a few months. Yosemite and my precious Sierra Nevada have already suffered through the worst wildfire ever, and more of the same is in store.

These kinds of climate changes that we are experiencing have been predicted and are happening now. It's not always easy to see the changes on a day to day basis, and sometimes the changes might seem positive. For one, we have not had a single Tule Fog day this entire winter. I hate the foggy sieges that used to last for weeks on end, but if it would mean rain and snow for us in California, I would welcome them today.

If we are moving towards a mega-drought, geologic history gives us a clue about what to expect. Two century-long droughts have already taken place in the last 1,200 years. I've discussed the effects previously in this post:

These dead trees in the middle of the Walker River in the eastern Sierra Nevada were growing to maturity while the river was largely nonexistent during one of California's horrific megadroughts.


Lockwood said...

I guess your Tule fogs have moved north. We've been having nothing but inversion fogs since the end of September (with the exception of a little- very little- rain at the beginning of January). I'm heartily sick of it, and rain deprivation is starting to feel like a physical malaise.

It's gorgeous at the coast, and 1000 feet off the valley floor, I hear. Oh, for the days I was able to just walk out to the hills and get out of and above this soup!

Garry Hayes said...

I experienced just one day of that inversion at Christmas time, and I hated every minute! It was such a relief to head out to the coast at the end of our day.