A U.S. Marine watches as an Osprey helicopter lands in Los Banos, California Friday, February 14, 2014. US President Barack Obama arrived on Marine 1 to address the drought situation.
Everyone continues to hold their breath to see what these looming twin storms in the forecast will bring in terms of rain and snow. Even the wettest, snowiest outcome, though, won't do much to erase California's overall water deficit.
- It's not just farmers in the Central Valley worried about water these days. That other major industrial valley to the west, the Silicon Valley, is getting more anxious, too. Paul Rogers writes in the San Jose Mercury News that the Santa Clara Valley Water District is considering asking customers, who supply the likes of Google and Facebook, to voluntarily cut water use by 20 percent — double what the agency asked for last month. (Mercury News)
- Santa Monica is poised to roll out Silicon Valley technology to help residents keep track of their water use. David Mark Simpson reports in the Daily Press that Santa Monica City Council is considering a motion to spend nearly $100,000 on a digital app that lets residents track, compare and share their water use. (Daily Press)
- Meanwhile, KCBS is reporting the drought has touched off a case of gold fever among modern-day prospectors who pan for gold in the local mountains. (KCBS)
- Finally, our own Sanden Totten helps demystify just how we use satellites miles in space to keep tabs on water buried deep underground. (KPCC)
National Weather Service/NOAA
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.
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.
Friday’s drought news leads by example.
Your daily must-listen comes to you via KPCC’s own Take Two, where Gov. Jerry Brown tells Alex Cohen he and his wife use around 35 gallons a day (“That’s low by California standards.”) but he admits to flushing his toilet sometimes. (“I'd say that's a personal question and it's challenging.”) More about groundwater regulation and water storage in the wide-ranging interview which led the show. (KPCC)
The governor's comments came on the same day officials announced the amount of water farmers will likely receive this year from the federal Central Valley Project: zero. (KPCC)
Once a Californian, always a Californian. All the way from Boston, Alex Beam educates the rest of the country about the free flowing water in Los Angeles fountains (it’s recycled!), and why the crisis doesn’t feel like a crisis everywhere in the Golden State:
A sercret service agent looks over a farm field as President Barack Obama speaks to the media on California's drought situation on February 14, 2014 in Los Banos, California. Obama met with farmers and ranchers while pledging millions of dollars in federal funds for drought relief projects in California.
Welcome back from the holiday weekend, during which I hope you all contemplated the history of Presidential water use like we did.
Water rationing for Cali's 3000 water agencies unlikely
It’s only February, but Paul Rogers wrote for the Mercury News over the long weekend about why water rationing isn’t happening, and isn’t likely. “[W]hen it comes to water in California, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to explain why rationing hasn’t taken hold,” he writes. “While three utilities provide 80 percent of Californians’ electricity, there are roughly 3,000 water providers statewide, all with different rules, political realities and needs.”
Farmers and the federal drought
The tail end of coverage around President Obama’s Fresno trip includes Scott Smith writing for the Associated Press with a react piece about how farmers see federal efforts on the drought. Obama was in Fresno to highlight federal action for the central valley. But the central valley farmers he talked to say federal financial assistance “does not get to the heart” of their drought problems. Farmers say the federal government should manage California’s water supply better so that there aren’t future shortages like the present one.
Image by the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio
The image above shows sea ice coverage in 1980, as observed by passive microwave sensors on NASA. Multi-year ice is shown in bright white, while average sea ice cover is shown in light blue to milky white. The data shows the ice cover for the period of November 1 through January 31.
Credit: Image by the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio based on data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)
The image above shows sea ice coverage in 2012, as observed by passive microwave sensors on NASA. Multi-year ice is shown in bright white, while average sea ice cover is shown in light blue to milky white. The data shows the ice cover for the period of November 1 through January 31.
As ice in the Arctic circle retreats, darker surfaces on the planet Earth are absorbing more of the sun’s energy, according to researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A bright white field — such as snow, or ice — effectively reflects the sun back into space. That's the albedo effect, and nearly a half-century ago, scientists hypothesized that the loss of ice was diminishing it in the Arctic region.
Scripps researchers are now able to measure Arctic reflectivity by using satellite data. According to graduate student Kristina Pistone, the team used actual satellite measurements of both albedo and sea ice to verify the hypothesis, and quantify the amount of heat the Earth absorbs as a result of the loss of ice.