Thirsty future

By From page A5 | February 12, 2014

January looked like one for the record books when we looked at it in this space, but decent rain at the end of the month left the month with a total of 0.75 inch. That is more than the 0.62 inch recorded in January 1977, the final drought years. It is more than the record low of .015 inch recorded in January 2012. The year 2012 ended with 29.51 inches compared to the 139-year average of 39.57. Anything above 30 inches is a decent year and anything above 25 inches is not great but not too bad.

Only four other years beside 2014 has January rainfall been less than 1 inch.

The 136-year average rainfall for February is 6.42 inches. Nothing has fallen as of Wednesday, though Weather Underground is calling for rain all the way through Monday and then alternating every other week through the rest of the month. AccuWeather shows a similar pattern, but fewer rain days.

Weather West says the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge of high pressure has broken down or at least moved out of the way and an atmospheric river could be in play by this weekend.

Until the rain Jan. 29-30, the south-facing mountains at Carson Pass and around Caples Lake were bare. Only the north-facing slopes had snow. The end of January brought enough snow to Echo Summit to bring an average of about 12 inches.

Tuesday night El Dorado Irrigation District General Manager Jim Abercrombie said it would take 10 feet of snow to fill Caples Lake. We’re a long way off from that.

Just for the record, the 139-year average rainfall in March is 6.18.

“The incredibly dry conditions brought about by the RRR mean that much of the San Francisco Bay Area has been drier than Death Valley over the past six months or so — and perhaps even drier than parts of the northern Sahara Desert. At a recent press conference detailing the unprecedented measures currently being undertaken in response to California’s exceptional drought, a Department of Water Resources official claimed that California would need to receive heavy precipitation every other day between now and the beginning of May to eliminate the existing precipitation deficit,” wrote Weather West Feb. 2.

The four-mile-high 2,000-mile-long Ridiculously Resilient Ridge may reform near the Aleutian Islands, according to Weather West. This humongous high-pressure ridge has had worldwide effects. Until rain began overnight Thursday it had bent the jet stream, sending the Polar Vortex to the Midwest and the East. Car dealers are struggling to shovel snow off of their cars. Meanwhile Alaska is getting spring runoff conditions as snowmelt fills its rivers and England, Central Europe and Italy are dealing with flooding.

It looks like we are getting some rain this month, but with Folsom Lake only 10 feet above its record low from 1977, it is unlikely to do more than keep the lake level from becoming absolutely desperate. EID has called for customers to reduce water use 30 percent. That means Navy showers, mellow yellow toilets and if you have a lawn, think about a rock garden.

Michael Raffety


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