Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Rain in the forecast, but no water in the ground

The National Weather Service's map of probable precipitation for a 12-hour period ending Thursday morning at 4 A.M. Green is good...is not what Gordon Gecko said in Wall Street. Friday and Saturday's maps show high probabilities of rain, too.
The National Weather Service's map of probable precipitation for a 12-hour period ending Thursday morning at 4 A.M. Green is good...is not what Gordon Gecko said in Wall Street. Friday and Saturday's maps show high probabilities of rain, too. National Weather Service/NOAA

Welcome back to a week where we’re all getting excited to tell each other to bring umbrellas.

  • The National Weather Service predicts probable rain Wednesday after 4 o’clock, and Friday into Saturday – two storms. (National Weather Service
  • Accuweather writes that downtown Los Angeles may receive “at least half of the rain that fell in all of 2013 (3.60 inches) from this one storm Friday through next weekend.” (AccuWeather)
  • Fritz Coleman says we’re presently expecting 1 to 2 inches of rain along the coast, double that in the foothills and mountains, and snow above 6,000 feet. Most of that will come on Friday; Wednesday’s described as more of a shower. (KNBC)

Everyone’s weekend read came from Bettina Boxall, who takes the long view on California’s relationship with water:

The state dried out like a prune in 1976-77 and before that in 1924, the most parched periods in the modern record. And ancient tree-ring records show that during the last millennium, conditions have at times been even worse.

Take the year 1580, which left the narrowest growth ring — or none at all — in the California trees that University of Arizona scientist David Meko used to reconstruct a 1,000-year history of stream flow in the Sacramento River Basin, the source of much of the state's water supply.

"You see things like 1580 — hey, this can happen," said Meko, who also detected periods of low river flow that lasted decades.

Don’t worry, there’s plenty more in her heavily shared story. (LAT)

  • Our own Kitty Felde talked to UC Irvine Professor Jay Famiglietti, and describes Famiglietti’s efforts to survey groundwater from space. Famiglietti continues to spread the gospel of groundwater management on Capitol Hill: “They’re getting it.” (KPCC)
  • KQED’s Lauren Sommer has a visit with a rice farmer, who keeps his field flooded to make “pop-up wetlands” for migrating birds through a project partnership with The Nature Conservancy. (NPR/Weekend Edition Saturday
  • “Big Data” may ease California’s drought, and has already influenced how the East Bay Municipal Utility District manages demand from its users. (Computerworld/Patrick Thibodeau
  • And Andrew Revkin in the New York Times gets philosophical, and remembers when President Obama said this country seems to have two extreme responses about energy prices: a trance-like state, and a shocked one. “Can the West, and California in particular, avoid a shock to trance approach to water?” he asks. (Dot Earth

Hit us with your big philosophical questions in the comments. And don't forget, if you're wondering what the water use restrictions are in your community, we've got you covered

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