Monday, January 20, 2014

The Difference Between Two Winters

 This is what the Yuba River looked like December 6, 2012.
 This is what it looked like January 20, 2014.
 December 6, 2012
January 20, 2014

The Governor declared a state of drought emergency last Friday. And as he has said, he can declare a drought, but he can't make it rain. Ain't that the truth. Here in California we only ever get rain in the winter. December is typically the wettest month. The average rainfall for December is 10.32 inches (26.2 cm), for January is 8.38 inches (21.3). We have had .57 inches (1.4 cm) of rain in December, and so far less than half of that in January, and there is absolutely no rain on the horizon.

29 comments:

  1. I do hope that changes. I love your photos and the rock formations, but it is disheartening to see how low the water is now.

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  2. In August of 1977 we rode our bikes from Astoria to San Francisco with a group. The st
    California was in its second year of drought, and the landscapes were so parched. We had to limit our showers at the Embarcadero YMCA to 2 minutes. The state managed some how. Conditions eventually changed, but there are many more people down there now competing for water. It looks like the whole West Coast is affected, too.

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  3. It's been very dry here in southeast Arizona. Fortunately, there was a good monsoon season, but now we need some rain. Doesn't look too promising.

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  4. Hopefully you will get some as it has stopped raining here at the moment and the floods are going down

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  5. very scary stuff. sure hope the rain finds CA soon. the previous 2 winters were so out of character for us, and this one looks like it is shaping up to be similarly odd.

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  6. Sadly, I suspect this is the new normal.

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  7. you and I were out doing the same thing yesterday -- surveying our piss pour water supply. At Folsom "Lake" it was like a moonscape. People are flocking there to walk out onto beds of dried mud and stare at the artifacts found at the (once) bottom of the lake.

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  8. Fingers crossed for some rain for you soon. It seems that every year the weather gets scarier.

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  9. Pretty dramatic photographs! Ironically, we have had one of the wettest years in history. Wish we could send some to you.

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  10. kenju-- It is such a beautiful river, and it is quite disheartening to see how low the water is in winter.

    isabelita-- I was in Santa Cruz during the 1977 drought. I remember it well. I think water conservation became a way of life for me back then. The population of California has almost doubled since those days. So, that really makes it scary. It surprises me so much to see Oregon and Washington dry this winter as well.

    bev-- The long-term forecast for the desert southwest does not look good at all.

    Bill-- Glad to hear that your rains have stopped. Sure wish we could have some of that precious moisture.

    Sky-- I've been looking at some of the climate models for the rest of the rainy season here, and it doesn't look good. I think the same may be true for the pacific northwest.

    paullamb-- I think you are right. This may very well be the new normal. Scary.

    Tara-- I've been reading about Folsom Lake, how an old town is starting to be visible in that now-dry moonscape. Crazy times.

    Francine-- We've got our fingers crossed too. The weather has gotten pretty scary.

    NCmountainwoman-- I was glad we had gone out to the river in December 2012 to take pics after some of the big rains. Interestingly, we really haven't had any rain since then. That's why the 2013 calendar year for rain was so dire. Sure wish you could send some of your rain to us.

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    Replies
    1. yes, the old town is called Mormon Island, and you can walk to it now. Old foundations, and, I think, an old cemetery. The low walls didn't look like foundations, more like walls around a family plot. It was crazy insane to be walking there.

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    2. We were thinking about going there to take a look. I hope you took photos. We'd love to see it through your eyes.

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  11. That's amazing. There was a drought in California when I lived at Lake Tahoe back in the winter of 1976-77, and I remember seeing some reservoirs that had levels many tens of feet lower than normal, but I don't think it was that bad.

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  12. "Well I wake up in the morning, fold my hands, and pray for rain ..."
    (Bob Dylan -- 1965)

    Since that's what the Yuba River looks like, I wonder about Lake Shasta. The water line at Lake Shasta was shockingly low when I saw it in fall of 2008.

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  13. I too think this is the new norm. I remember it being predicted back in the 70's when I first became aware of what we were doing to the atmosphere. Meanwhile we keep getting snowed on and having sub zero temperatures here. It's alarming how we just can't stop contributing to our own demise somehow. Silly humans.

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  14. Mark-- This drought is being compared to the one in 1977. I may go and hunt around for some details on that one. I don't know we'd be doing if we hadn't gotten 30 inches of rain in November/December 2012. That's pretty much it. We probably had five inches between January and June 2013. I'm hoping for a good drenching in February.

    am-- All of the state reservoirs are extremely low. I saw a photo of Almaden Reservoir in San Jose, it blew my mind it was so low.

    jsk-- I remember the same prediction from the 70s. That's why I've never forgotten the routine of short showers, not leaving the water running while doing the dishes, etc. It is alarming how we can't stop contributing to our own demise.

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  15. It's that high ridge in the Pacific. It's led to day after day of fog in my part of Oregon. It's also way under for the rain it should have as it's all being pushed north. Very worrisome.

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  16. Rain-- It is very worrisome. We're hoping for a lot of rain in February.

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  17. Funny how things are so different this year. we, in Ontario, have received more snow than usual with bitterly cold temps. We are sitting at -38 this evening! Hopefully you will get rain soon!

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  18. wendyytb-- I'm surprised by how different the west coast is from the east coast this year. A strange set of extremes. I hope we get rain, and I hope your temps warm up. A little balance would be so nice. Thank you for stopping by.

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  19. The Gov. had better stop talking about spending billions on the high speed train line and start building desalination plants with that money. Geez! We should already have them.

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  20. Pat-- We need rain and snow. I've read that 90% of the state's water goes to agribusiness. I wish I knew what was true. I don't know how I feel about desalination. We've polluted the oceans so much. It would almost be like drinking reclaimed water, not to mention the energy it takes to desalinate. I wish there ware easy answers.

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  21. It will rain again. Maybe not this year, but it will rain again. Meanwhile, I've been enjoying the sunshine each day here in Portland because next year it will probably pour every day.

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  22. Rubye Jack-- Oh yes, it's definitely going to rain again. May not be enough to quench this thirsty part of the earth, but rain is on the way. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  23. It will rain again, but I fear there will never be enough water for the ever-exploding population of that clearly suffering state. My visit was wonderful, except I was saddened by what I saw and experienced there re: extreme drought+too many people. Ouch.
    Fingers crossed, read that you may see "some" rain around those parts by the end of this month.

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  24. It usually works over here: no sooner do they appoint a minster for drought than the heavens open and we have persistent rain. We have plenty right now!

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  25. Annie-- We're going to get some rain Wednesday-Thursday, but at this point it's not going to change the drought. We're going to need a lot more rain in February to help make up for this year-long deficit.

    John-- We're hoping for a good rain. I've been reading about the rains in England and wishing we could get some of that moisture here. There's a crazy imbalance everywhere right now.

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  26. It is very frightening what's happening in the western part of the US. Agriculture does indeed use a lot of water. And don't forget fracking: That industry uses large quantities of water and renders it poison. It should be flat out banned in times of drought.
    I recall readin an article long long ago about an impoverished community in an arid country who hung plastic sheets folded to make a trough and emptying into containers. They collected the morning dew for their water supply. That's not a heck of a lot of water! I hope that's not our future.

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  27. CCorax-- We just got about 1 1/2 inches of rain. That's it for January. We're about 5% of normal rainfall for the year. The SF Chronicle had an article about 17 communities that could be without drinking water in 60-120 days. Interesting times. That's why it absolutely appalled me to hear Obama talk about tracking like it was a sane way to deal with the future. OMG.

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