California Drought

January 17th, 2014 at 12:27 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

California drought    drought monitor      California had their driest year in 2013 and this is turning out to be the driest winter.  Note the 2 satellite pictures – one from 1/13/2013 and the one on the right is from 1/13/2014.  Note the lack of snow in the mountains!  Mammoth Mt. Ski Area has had only 48″ of snow all season (less than Grand Rapids).  Last year they got over 147″ in December alone.  Squaw Valley reports a base of only 21″ at 8,900 ft. elevation.  Same at the Kirkwood Ski Area – a base of only 21″.  On Thursday, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mts. was only 17% of average.   The Willits water agency, in Mendocino County says there is  just a 100-day supply of water left.   A persistent ridge over the Rockies has not only forced storm systems north of California, but the ridge has brought NW flow and incursions of cold, Arctic air to the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast.   The dry weather has enhanced the fire danger.  Note that almost all fires out there now were started by humans, either accidentally or on purpose – that fires would not have occurred if the people had not started them.   Many western fires are started by lightning, but without storms, you don’t get the lightning.  The ridge and dry conditions will persist UFN – I don’t see the ridge breaking down anytime soon.  The next week looks bone dry for California and much of Mexico and the western U.S.    Extreme negative EPO prime driver of California drought/ridge and Great Lakes cold…negative Arctic Oscillation is another marker for cold air moving south into the Great Lakes.

116 Responses to “California Drought”

  1. WolverDog says:

    If build a city in a desert, plant highly flammable vegetation because it looks pretty, and waste all of your water on your putting green; what do you expect to happen?
    Darwin would say what?
    Billy Joel would say what?
    Smokey the Bear would say what?
    Forrest Gump would say what?

    1. DF (SE Mich) says:


    2. WswPlz says:

      You are more describing Palm Springs. California has it’s worst fires often where it snows 300+ inches a year, and no planting of highly flammable vegetation! But your description however somewhat funny I have admit, would probably be more so, if it didn’t effect as many lives as it is this year. Your implied theory however, does fit southern Ca pretty close. Lol

  2. mike says:

    Yeah but we are about to get ridiculous cold for the next 2 weeks so climate change doesn’t exist. according to Fox News. Worst thing they ever did was call it Global “warming”. Its not about the warming, its about the messed up extremes from one end to the other.

    1. WswPlz says:

      And we live on a Glacier……lol and everyone complains about cold.

    2. Steve W. says:

      Interesting you bring this up Mike. Want to share this piece of information from Time Magazine:

    3. Michael g (se gr) says:

      Right. Because it was never hot and dry in California until recently.

      1. ron says:

        When the governor says on cnn its never been this bad in 100 years, i guess not

        1. michael g (SE GR) says:

          Right. The weather never used to be extreme. Perception, not reality. What has really changed is the fact that in 1900 in California there were 1.5 million people, in 2000 there were 34 million. THAT is why there is a water shortage, not because the climate has changed.

        2. WswPlz says:

          True as it pertains to Southern California.. They take all the water from Northern Ca and ship it through an aqua-duct, canal, to L.A….. Otherwise the water situation would not be where it is, of course this year is an exception.

        3. WswPlz says:

          The weather is extreme btw, it’s not just do to population increase. There are many years in which Ca has an abundance of water. I’m not implying global warming either. Although that seems to be occurring naturally, however it has been flat for some time. Pretty hard to quantify trends on a place that’s been around so long, and such a contrasting short period of data values. ( accurate or maybe not).

        4. Robert (Plainwell) says:

          Oh where’s big Daddy BC.. This sounds like something he will chime in on.

        5. WswPlz says:

          Lol, ya I’m mot going down the global rabbit hole, so to speak. For one I’m no expert and two it’s an endless topic. Lol

        6. WswPlz says:

          *global warming rabbit hole I mean…

        7. Bill Steffen says:

          Mike – the “extremes” are no more extreme now than they were before. We had a near-record low number of tornadoes last year…we’ve now gone 8 years without a Category 3 or higher hurricane hit on the U.S., the longest time in history – last year we had the fewest number of wildfires in the U.S. in any year since 1984 – we haven’t had a drought as widespread or severe over such a large area as the drought of the mid 1930s – the coldest cold wave was in Feb. 1899 and the warmest heat wave was in July 1936. Overall hurricane activity global has been decreasing since 2005.

          It was “global warming” from CO2…but now that the globe hasn’t warmed since 2002, it’s been renamed “climate change”. CO2 doesn’t make it colder, no more so than turning up your thermostat would make one room of your house colder.

        8. WswPlz says:

          Well put Bill, just hope that you know who doesn’t find your comment. Lol..

    4. Mike M. says:

      It’s not about warming, it’s about goalposts with teflon-coated ball bearing feet. Makes them so much easier to move.

  3. Robert says:

    I live in Southern California and it’s unbelievably dry and warm! I’m visiting GR this week and enjoying the snow. Back to the 80′s next week for my family.

    1. WswPlz says:

      Where in Southern Ca.? You sound like you did live in the desert. Or least inland.

      1. Robert says:

        East Orange County

        1. WswPlz says:

          Ya it’s hot there for sure. I last lived in Dana Point, so had the benefit of the ocean. You drive 15+ miles inland and it’s 20-30 warmer, sometimes much more.

  4. WswPlz says:

    Rather do live…

    1. WswPlz says:

      Anyways I went to school at SDSU, and ended up saying in San Diego area. I lived on the ocean, so it was very comfortable year around. Probably sound really good next week.

  5. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Glad were not out there right now

    1. WswPlz says:

      They are probably saying the same about our cold… Haha

    2. John (Norton Shores) says:

      True haha! You always have good points or quotes!

  6. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Although California is have some nice temperatures, but I wouldn’t want all that dry weather

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      I lived in Las Vegas for a few months years ago, and yes, everything is dry and brown. No green anywhere. I was so glad to finally see green in the mountain valleys once I got into Utah on my way home.

      1. WswPlz says:

        Las Vegas is a true desert, and in Nevada. Good place to go for 3 days….

    2. WswPlz says:

      Ya, this current situation is bad. I do sometimes miss the ocean and 70,s year around. But as for L.A you couldn’t pay me to live there. I like the seasons in Michigan, always been snow lover. Here is a couple cool things about living in San Diego. One you can drive 45 min and your in a different country, two you can drive 1 hour north east you have 170″ of snow and skiing, of course the ocean with 78 degree water temp, 45 min east Palm Springs and desert activities( sand rails, motorcycle , etc) and if you like outdoor activities to many to list, last 45 min to L.A.( no thanks for me ). Cost of living terrible. I’ll take Michigan.

      1. John (Norton Shores) says:

        I would never even if someone paid me 1 billion dollars go to Mexico, I do not trust that country lol

        1. WswPlz says:

          It’s not that bad( need to know where to go) John…. Lol. Similar to Detroit in that you would not want to go to some places. I used to have a condo in Mexico, and went all the time. Quite beautiful…

        2. John (Norton Shores) says:

          Yeah I just wouldn’t want to drive over the border, I’d be fine by flying into a good area of Mexico

        3. Jack says:

          MEXICO::::: Happy FRYday !!! Stay cued ?…

        4. WswPlz says:

          Before I drove across myself, I felt the same way. But you need to know where to go, and speaking Spanish helps. Yes, it is usually safer to fly, but driving can be fine depending on the border city. My friend did get kidnaped near Tia Juana and he was from Mexico. They knew his family had money, really sad situation. He still hasn’t been found, and that was after a large ransom payout…going on 4+ years as of Dec…..

        5. Jack says:

          WSW PLZ …. ” Detroit City” CUE::: Happy FRYday..stay Cued!!! ;-)

        6. John (Norton Shores) says:

          Mexicans stink! :-(

        7. Mark (East Lansing) says:


        8. Mark (East Lansing) says:

          ^sarcastic, by the way^

  7. WswPlz says:

    I would really like a snow storm!! You trackin anything Jack?

    1. Jack says:

      The JEM model Takes ” FRYdays” OFF !! Lol….stay cued… ;-)

      1. WswPlz says:

        Ha…. I think the storms have taken a break from Michigan..!

    2. Brian(Grandville) says:

      Then don’t read the latest forecast discussion.

      1. WswPlz says:

        So basically cold and very little chances for snow. You’re right I shouldn’t have read it….

    1. WswPlz says:

      Ahhhh.. Eagles are always great!! Nice one..

  8. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Latest forecast update from the NWS, they do not seem overly excited about next week’s snow potential, just light snow showers and cold

    1. WswPlz says:

      I really hope they are wrong, but it looks as they are unfortunately correct!! There is always hope…and Bob Hope, and of course no hope….

      1. Jack says:

        You Forgot HIGH HOPES…..SPIN ::: Happy FRYday Stay cued ;-)

        1. WswPlz says:

          I did lol….

  9. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Next week looks cold but unfavorable for lake effect snow (must I include the term snow when we all know it is physically impossible for liquid to fall in the extreme temperatures… At least naturally). Our main chances of snowfall will come from low pressure systems and clippers, but the jetstream will be too far south for any good systems.

    1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      Dog days of winter? If there is such a thing?

      1. Jack says:

        Good Question….speaking of Dogs ! Cue, Little Feat on This FRYday ::: ;-)

        1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

          Wow, now there’s a deep cut. Nice one, Jack.

        2. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

          The dead of winter is right now, so pretty much!

    2. John (Norton Shores) says:

      Nathan do you think we’ll get a snowstorm in February?

      1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

        If this extreme cold pattern continues… then we may be stuck with clippers. I do think the cold will break in the mid-end of the month with a couple storms. Obviously we could be in the rain/mix side before snow, but we shall see. The atmospheric conditions just aren’t good (at the moment) for prolong periods of cold, just short cold spells. But with some changes in the pattern soon, I think its possible!

        1. John (Norton Shores) says:

          Thank you Nathan, I hope your right! :)

  10. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    NO SNOWSTORM PATTERN with no change in sight! I just took a measurement and my total snowfall accumulation for this 2 day massive clipper was 1.0 inches of SNOW! My NWS point forecast said that I would recieve 4.0 inches! Back to the drawing board! What a joke!

  11. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    NEWS BULLETIN>>>>> John Dee is off his rocker! Check out his web site! Click the forecast graphic link on the left hand corner and then scroll down to the 5 to 10 day snowfall outlook!!! He is giving GR 8 to 12 inches of SNOW! Is he nuts? GR will be lucky to see more than two inches of SNOW during this time frame! Ridiculous!

    1. kevin. w says:

      Don’t think the lake is going to do much now that its really cold and ice is going to form like crazy.

  12. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    It looks like I will be heading up North tomorrow to find some decent SNOW pack! The last two weeks have been very anemic for SNOW around here! It is getting old very fast!

    1. WswPlz says:

      I will be driving that way it looks like as,well. :( . I really wish we could have one storm penetrate our bubble…. Instead here comes the pitch- just wide and outside- inside and off the corner, etc, etc. what is Ricky Von on the storm mound…what happened to the cheese straight down the pipe. Home run!!!!!

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        Yes the clippers are going NORTH, SOUTH and WEST of us! We are in a horrendous pattern for SNOW currently!

      2. WswPlz says:

        I teed one up for ya Jack….” Wild Thing”

        1. Jack says:

          ” Wild Thing” Spin … ” The Late Sam Kinison ” HERE::: Happy FRYday….stay cued

  13. kevin. w says:

    Yep Rocky but when the pattern breaks were going into a whole different amplified pattern later in February and March. When that high off the pacific breaks down better look out because the flood gates are open for big storms with lots of gulf moisture charged to produce are biggest snow yet along with flooding, severe weather and tornadoes. I just think when one amplified pattern is done another will start but I’m thinking that at some point toward spring it will probably be storm after storm. MHO.

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      I sure hope the stormy SNOWSTORM pattern starts before the end of February! How about we get the SNOWSTORM party started by the beginning of February and then have it last till April! Now that would be fun!!!!

      1. WswPlz says:

        How about sooner then later please, like Tuesday at the latest. With 4-6′over the weekend, to tide us over.

        1. WswPlz says:

          I miss the days of looking at snowfall maps and thinking will it be 10 -12 for me or just 8-10″. Now it’s nothing but pink for two weeks….errrrr. Good for breast cancer awareness, not snow accums.

        2. WswPlz says:

          We need major snow before football ends, or it’s going to be a long long winter.

  14. WswPlz says:

    As if the forecast could not get worse, it did…ouch

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Agreed the SNOW forecast for the GR area is about as bad as it gets! No SNOWSTORMS in sight. The clippers are a bust and very little lake effect! WOW now that is horrendous!

      1. kevin. w says:

        Its dry going to stay dry until we get a pattern shift. You’ll probably wish someone to turn off the storm making machine.

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          One storm after another is good with me. The more SNOW the better! Bring it on!

        2. WswPlz says:

          + 10000 have never reached the storm button off phase, Strictly on plz… I have never said ” hmmm I wish these snow storms would weaken a little” but I would love to see this magnanimous storm pattern of epic proportion in which you elude to Mr. Kevin.W of the winter storm watch. I really would….

  15. WswPlz says:

    All we can do now is pray, I will start praying , remember prayer in numbers!!

    1. Jack says:

      True WSW PLZ … However CUE::: :-) . God is GOOD!!!! :-)

  16. kevin. w says:

    By looking at the SOI numbers and the pressures out in southern Asia I’m thinking things will change about the first to second week of February. The south pacific is really starting to warm up and I think the pattern is going to change right about that time. Probably what will happen is a large storm will start to break down the high off the pacific and then the storms will start coming. I really think that once we get into a more subtropical storm track it may end with lots of snowstorms/floods/severe weather/tornadoes from mid February through maybe April. The high has broke down a couple times: The big icestorm followed by a huge snowstorm, just look at the pattern, its coming once that high is gone. Just my honest opinion. I mean think about once you get to Valentines day (I always use that as the end of solar winter) the south starts to warm up the atmosphere has more energy to work with and the jet is stronger. Then your off to the races. I could be wrong but its MHO. :)

    1. Jack says:

      LIKE !!!!!!! stay cued

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      + one trillion gazillion!

  17. kevin. w says:

    Also sometimes you go from one extreme to another pretty fast. What could happen and which I don’t wish is that March could be a month of record flooding in California with mudslides and washed out roads in the blink of an eye.

    1. WswPlz says:

      Okay so basically I’m reading “Cupids Colossal Snow Storm takes Aim on Southern Michigan ” done and done!!!!!

      1. WswPlz says:

        * lower Michigan

    2. WswPlz says:

      Ive seen it happen, just not in March, but with the ridge breaking maybe.

  18. Jack says:

    Happy FRYday BILL !!! And NICE Hair TRIM !!! Looking Good CHIEF!!! Stay cued & God BLESS U…..+……. :-)

  19. WswPlz says:


    1. Jack says:

      Could That be 1-2 Remember PER JEM Feb. Prediction ???? Hmmmmm… Stay Cued … Cupid ;-)

      1. WswPlz says:

        I hope Jack, you que: them as you do so well, and we have the headline read for print. Mark it down? Lol

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      If we do not get a SNOWSTORM by mid February I am done with winter! We are in a horrible SNOW drought!

      1. Jack says:

        Rocky, Indy and I were Talking yesterday . Don’t You do this ” Flip- Flop” every Winter ?? Not saying anything Bad Here, But we Think our Memories recall That. Are WE Correct ??? Know what I’m Saying ??? Staying Cued… ;-)

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Just the facts Jack. When we are in a COLD and SNOWY pattern I will talk SNOWSTORMS! When we are in a NO SNOWSTORM pattern I make sure that everyone knows about it! The fact remains once you are in a pattern it is hard to break out of it! Now bring on the SNOW!! Rock n Roll will never die!!!

        2. Jack says:

          Ok Rocky…CUE for You :: Happy FRYday & Stay cued.. ;-)

        3. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          One of the best songs EVER!!!

      2. kevin. w says:

        Wow your giving up pretty quick for a snowlover. You got to look at the pattern the past 6 weeks and when we have a had big precipatation producers the ridge broke down and we got hammered. Just hang in there I know this type of pattern the storms are moisture starved coming all the way from the Yukon. I’m tellin ya when it breaks the flood gates are going to be pouring and your gonna wish it would stop. With a very deep frost in the ground and we get a quick melt with some big rain producers were all going to be swimming in the street. I can just see how this spring is going to be JUST HORRIBLE.

        1. WswPlz says:

          Kevin, once again I’m just not seeing it EVER getting to the point where I hit the eject button due to frequency, strength, and intensity of voracious storms to come. I appreciate your take on the possibility of this occurring and I do hope you are correct in your hypothesis. But with all do respect I don’t believe that the ” snow lovers ” are going to beg for mercy when, or rather if the food gates do open. I guess I should only speak on my account, but that threshold has not been minutely close to being reached for me EVER. But if it does I will be the first person to ” yell uncle” and you shall be forever known as uncle Kevin W aka storm whisperer at large. Until that time I think it’s safe to say keep the hammer down!!

  20. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    I cannot believe that the CPC has us in the above normal precip for the 6 to 14 day period?

  21. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Looks like the snow is fairly light across northern Illinois. I would suspect some intensification over the next 5 hours or so with just flurries up here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few location around the Indiana Border pick up an inch or two of snow though, but in general, this system has been significantly farther south than previously expected.

    1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

      However, it does appear that the most significant snowfall across Indiana will occur tomorrow from a batch of snow further up north that will swing down south. So I guess this light snow was anticipated in the first place, at least by the looks of it.

  22. TomKap (Michigan St. & Fuller) Grand Rapids says:

    Wow, do some of you people do ANYTHING ELSE but type on this blog all day?

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Thank you for that riveting and profound statement!

    2. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

      Yeah, I go to school from 7:40-2:45 and swim from 3:30-6:00, why?

    3. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      It was a rhetorical question, but thanks for playing boys.

  23. Brian(Grandville) says:

    I clicked the link to Squaw Valley, scrolled to the bottom, and their forecast for the next 5 days calls for highs near 50. Wow! Not a good forecast for a ski resort.

  24. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Great news – the SNOW on the radar is building and heading right at us. We might pick up .2 inches of SNOW tonight! Whoopee – get the snow blower gassed up and ready to ROCK!

  25. John (Norton Shores) says:

    I’ve not seen the CPC outlooks look as cold as they do right now, I hope all of these models are lying on this polar vortex

  26. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    I had to shovel in NW Grand Rapids this evening. I only shoveled about 1.5″ which would be total snowfall for the week. Also Grand Rapids has only about half the snow depth that we have here at my house. I have seen reports from the local snowmobile clubs that the trails held up, and are actually in good to really good shape. We are going up north on Monday to snowmobile, but we’re not sure on where we will go yet.

  27. INDY says:


  28. Todd In Nunica says:

    As I was plowing was thinking how last winter didnt even start till Jan 20 for me, this year has been good so far, thought I would add up snowfall from 01/20/13 to 1/18/14 (today) (363 days) 156.9″ recorded at muskegon.

    Ok nuff said, no weather to speak so im doing something other than worrying about whats gonna happen.

    Weather rock will notify me when things change….. :)

    1. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

      It sure has been a cold and snowy 363 days. I just added up my snowfall for those 363 days, and I have had 171.5″ in that timeframe. It’s pretty incredible.

      1. Todd In Nunica says:

        WOW nice!

  29. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    00Z Euro is even colder than previous runs for the last week of January. It gives lake shore counties 20-30 degrees below average, and areas east of the lake influence 30-40 degrees below average for the morning of January 27. So on the morning of Jan. 27 the temps could be from -5 to -15 in lake shore counties, and -15 to -30 in inland counties? I hope it doesn’t get that cold!

  30. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    All of the news about potential SNOW is anemic. Today’s clipper will go South, the Monday clipper will go North and GR will see very little SNOW all week! Winter is rapidly leaving West MI! All of this cold air doesn’t do a thing for us with out SNOW!! I am heading up North to find some decent snow pack! Latter people!

  31. Orland Horn says:

    A short term solution to aid in Drought relief for Farmers in Sacramento Area – transfer water from the Sacramento River via railroad tank cars.
    ( A 34,500 gallon tank car will cover 1.27 acres with 1″ of water. )

    This would be costly, but we don’t have a problem sending $billions to Iraq & Afghanistan, etc. This would help in mitigating the food shortage and unrest that may follow the crisis.

    Thank You for your time and God Bless America!

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