Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Will El Niño get us out of this mess?

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Good news, maybe! Climatologists say global weather patterns may shift so that the drought could end later this year. But let us not count our chickens until we examine sacred cows.

  • The Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration issued an El Niño watch Thursday, saying that there's a 50 percent chance that weaker trade winds will allow water in the eastern Pacific ocean to get warmer, changing global climate patterns. (NOAA)
  • An El Niño could soak California, make for a stormy winter in the southern U.S., and take away precipitation in Australia — where climatologists noted warming trends last month. It may be June or July before experts know more. (Bloomberg)
  • NOAA's Martin Hoerling weighs in on whether climate change is influencing California's drought: 
This is not to say that a warmer climate can’t and won’t act to decrease soil moisture. It simply reminds us that the current drought event, like its historical ancestors, continues to be strongly driven by the vagaries of storm tracks and the manner in which rains are delivered to the narrow stripe of the U.S. West Coast. (DotEarth/NYT)
  • No El Niño yet: Ag Department analyst expects another active fire season in California, in part thanks to drought. (ClimateCentral)
  • Scott Slater and his company, Cadiz, earned Bloomberg notice when the stock jumped 23 percent in one week in January. Cadiz wants to sell water from a desert aquifer to Los Angeles. Slater says California needs projects like this. Not everybody agrees:
"The desert aquifer is tied to growth on the southern coast. Why else would a small Orange County water agency do a project in the middle of the desert?” says Conner Everts of the Southern California Watershed Alliance. “We call these ‘zombie water projects’—projects that come back to life when people worry about drought. At some point California is going to have to make water a much more serious part of land-use decisions." (Bloomberg)
  • Hay for sale: California Cattlemens' Association ranchers who are spending more on hay are selling off cattle, say UC Davis researchers. (AccuWeather)
  • Unrelated, perhaps, except metaphorically: Jeffrey Ball writes that California "has begun to get serious" about drought "in the last few weeks" in an article entitled "Trapped in a Devastating Drought, California Needs to Take on Some Surprising Sacred Cows." (New Republic)
  • No mandatory water limits in Southern California, but Fremont-based water agency may enforce mandatory restrictions. (Contra Costa Times)

And Minnesota's Alex Lamb may have cracked the code on this whole drought problem: 

Offer your solutions to the drought in the comments before you have a great weekend!


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