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The California Drought

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  • The California Drought

    Get yer Steinbeck out and start preparing for another dust bowl.

    We drove to Monterey to enjoy some 80 degree beach days. Unheard of!

    But the brown hills and dusty fields are very depressing. If we don't get rain, the grass will not grow this year, spring flowers will not bloom. Literally. Eucalyptus groves are tinder boxes.

  • #2
    Does everyone forget the drought of the '80s and first couple of years of the '90s? I remember riding mountain bikes all winter in the Bay Area all winter those years with warm temps and dry trails, even hanging at the Beach in Santa Cruz. I remember skiing on not much more than groomers for a large part of the season around Tahoe, Kirkwood and Bear Valley.
    I don't think this is unheard of or unprecedented.

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    • #3
      It's not unheard of or unprecedented...indeed the great Eric O posted a quote from East of Eden on some other social media site that is spot on to describe today's situation

      but people forget how dry the drought years are. and as CA's population expands and water use increases, the effect becomes more serious each time.

      yes, we will get through it, yes, there will be deep snow winters in the future (though less of them). but none of that denies that there is going to be some serious sht this summer. how serious? we'll just have to see. I can see large communities dependent on trucked in water, lots of vegetables not being planted and triage among the farmers as to what fruit and nut trees survive. none of that is unprecedented, either.
      Last edited by Baaahb; 23 January 2014, 10:26 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Baaahb View Post
        Get yer Steinbeck out and start preparing for another dust bowl.

        We drove to Monterey to enjoy some 80 degree beach days. Unheard of!

        But the brown hills and dusty fields are very depressing. If we don't get rain, the grass will not grow this year, spring flowers will not bloom. Literally. Eucalyptus groves are tinder boxes.
        Grass, flowers, and eucalyptus groves; wish it was so simple here. Everything is dense, mainly second growth coniferous forest up here in our mountains in the North, and NOAA currently has a red flag warning up for fire danger due to very low humidity and warm winds. In January! Never happened before. Our normal annual precipitation was always 60-90 inches. We've had about 10 so far this season, and 9 of them ran right off when they fell on dry ground in the Fall. Snow? None at all on our local 5,000' terrain that usually has several to many feet of base by now. We live in the mountains, surrounded by forest, so it could get ugly in spite of the fuels reduction work we have done if this situation extends through the usual precipitation season. But it is depressing, especially the not having skied yet part.

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        • #5
          At least you guys are talking about it. We have a lower than normal snowpack (significantly), especially in the southern portions of the Coast Mtn's (esp. the local Vancouver mtns). People here are raving about the amazing weather the past two weeks and how great it is. No one here clues in to what it means - water rationing, unfilled reservoirs, increased fire hazard, etc. They just hope it will continue.

          However, fortunately, it would seem that the ridge is starting to break down, but still strong for another 10 days or so. Offshore in the Pacific, water is cooler, and storms are brewing, blowing west. We are expecting a pretty significant break-down of the ridge and a very cool and wet pattern by mid-Feb which might correct everything pretty quickly. I hope so, but weather is a fickle beast. We often get huge March's.... March/April of 04/05 was saving grace for our water supplies and ecology bringing us over 100% of normal in like 3 weeks after a dreary Jan/Feb.

          Are you not seeing this same trend?

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          • #6
            Yes, certainly in recent experience we have been getting a lot of precip in March. But I don't think you can count on it. If we don't get a significant storm in Feb/Mar, we are in a real shtstorm with unpredictable, off-the-chart results. If we get a few storms bringing a few inches of rain, we still have a real shtstorm, with predictable results.

            Governor Brown recently highlighted concerns about the drought in his State of the State speech. I would guess that in the State Water Board, some folks are tearing their hair out wondering if there is more that they can do to prepare for the worst.

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            • #7
              Hindfoot, where are you?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Baaahb View Post
                Hindfoot, where are you?
                We're up in the NW corner of the state, about 25 miles inland.

                Yes, let's hope this ridge of high pressure does break down all the way down the coast from B.C. If not, unless the usual weather pattern is also disrupted enough to give us some summer precip, it could get real ugly on many levels. Similarly to WH's remarks, over on the coast here everyone is blissed out on the absence of storms and the unusually warm, sunny weather, most being clueless or heedless about what this could actually mean if it continues.

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                • #9
                  There is no use running around with hair on fire yelling at the sky, it is what it is. Most certainly we can't count on the goverment to put forth reasonable solutions as there is law, water rights and politics that can't be changed atleast in the short coming. So, individually, "Hope for the best and plan for the worse". We have zero scaped our yard removing all lawn and heavy irrigation as well as converting our backyard into a good sized vegetable garden. We are also putting $$ aside incase we need to replace our well.

                  As far as recreation, sure we are disappointed about lack of snow but we try to be diversed enough to stay off the couch and do pity party. So, go up and grind man made snow 2x wk, back on our bikes as the soil dries up and chip away at fitness. So, I guess if it does snow we will be in shape to ski it. We are older and there is a end game coming so need to take advantage of everyday. WTBS, weather now is awesome, high 50's, no wind and abundant sunshine.........
                  "Just say no to groomed snow"

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                  • #10
                    In some ways it is unprecedented. The driest 12 months on record for many places. But certainly there have been similar years in the past... just not quite this bad.

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                    • #11
                      I took a road trip this past summer up to Klamath, Crescent City, Eureka and was (due to ignorance) expecting it to be overcast and moist. It was the opposite. The beaches were wonderful with abundant sunshine and the woods even close to the coast looked dry. Driving inland, things got drier and drier, and that is a massive expanse of sparsely populated forest, that is dry.
                      I was talking to some wildfire guys last night and they are expecting a big year. They say the real problem is the really old fuels, like the stuff that hasn't burned in 100 years. Apparently desert fires can be mellower after dry years as the ground cover, like cheatgrass, which can dry out really quickly, doesn't get much of a chance to grow during dry years. But the big stands, like the western slope of the Sierra, is stacked with burnable timber and each year it gets drier, just because it's getting older and hasn't burned in so long, and being dry makes the ground level fuels more ready to burn. The season is also extended significantly. Red flag warnings in northern forests, in January?? That does sound unheard of.

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                      • #12
                        What is that green speck in the middle of Oregon amidst a sea of yellow, orange and red?
                        "Nobody ever got my name right." - Me

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                        • #13
                          ^^^^Looks like the Ochoco Mtns.
                          Yay!...(Drool)


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Baaahb View Post
                            It's not unheard of or unprecedented...indeed the great Eric O posted a quote from East of Eden on some other social media site that is spot on to describe today's situation

                            but people forget how dry the drought years are. and as CA's population expands and water use increases, the effect becomes more serious each time.

                            yes, we will get through it, yes, there will be deep snow winters in the future (though less of them). but none of that denies that there is going to be some serious sht this summer. how serious? we'll just have to see. I can see large communities dependent on trucked in water, lots of vegetables not being planted and triage among the farmers as to what fruit and nut trees survive. none of that is unprecedented, either.
                            Oh, I thought that when you posted "Unheard of!" you meant it was unheard of.

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                            • #15
                              The drought comes in cycles. What's unheard of is a warm beach day in NorCal. Sorry for any exaggeration or hyperbole.

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