Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Fires burn San Diego; Feinstein burns enviros

Rattlesnake vaccine

Jed Kim

Friday's drought news looks at an already devastating fire season and other effects that sound almost like Biblical plagues.


  • Several wildfires are raging around San Diego. At least one person has been killed. Police have detained two teenagers suspected of setting some small brush fires. CNN has terrifying video of "firenadoes." (CNN)

In case it's not clear:

  • L.A. Times has a story that links the increase in wildfires to the drought and high temperatures. If this is a surprise to you, welcome to California, and perhaps Earth? (LA Times)
  • Bloomberg points out that this 'a here drought is going to last through the summer and that we're all hoping for a wet El Niño next year. (Bloomberg)


  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein is working hard to get an anti-drought bill into place. She's been having a tough time getting everyone on board with it, especially environmental groups, whom she kind of disses in the article:


California Drought News: Other states caught in drought too

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Trucks filled with agricultural products cross a bridge over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan has two "co-equal" goals that are at odds -- restoring the ecosystem while protecting water deliveries to Central Valley farms and Southern California’s growing population.

Wednesday's drought news roundup has us looking outside our state and realizing that we're not the only ones hurting. It's time to get "Lost" in drought news.

The Others:

  • We may have been the loudest about it, but we're certainly not alone. Half of the country is experiencing drought conditions. California's been at it longer than most, though. So, you know, go us.
The U.S. drought is concentrated in the Plains states and in the West, though Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Appalachians stretching from West Virginia into eastern Tennessee are all experiencing abnormal dryness. (LiveScience)


  • With that dryness comes a rough fire season. The U.S. could spend $1.8 billion fighting fires this season. That's almost $500,000 more than what's available. (Bloomberg)
  • California's ability to fight fires may get a boost from Gov. Jerry Brown's budget, which would give Cal Fire an additional $67 million. The state would get $142 million more to help with the drought. (Capitol Public Radio)


California Drought News: Smokey Bear gets a makeover, MWD gets a say in water tunnel construction

Rim Fire Burns Near Yosemite National Park

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

GROVELAND, CA - AUGUST 21: A Smokey the Bear sigb is posted along US highway 120 as the Rim Fire burns out of control on August 21, 2013 in Groveland, California. The Rim Fire continues to burn out of control and threatens 2,500 homes outside of Yosemite National Park. Over 400 firefighters are battling the blaze that is only 5 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Today we look at how the drought's affecting water management, Smokey Bear and more.

  • Just in time for what could be a busy summer of firefighting, the U.S. Forest Service is giving Smokey Bear an image makeover to appeal to millennials. No word yet whether his baggy dungarees will be replaced by skinny jeans. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Some of the state's largest water concerns — including Southern California's Metropolitan Water District and the Kern County Water Agency — are being asked to help plan construction for the twin water diversion tunnels that are central to Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. (Sacramento Bee)
  • Concerns the drought would cause a drop in school attendance as jobless farm workers relocate have come true in Fresno County. The Kings Canyon Unified School District reports a loss of about 150 students during a year it expected to see an increase. The decline means a drop of $1.5 million in state funding. (KVPR)
  • In Fresno, the city council is considering a plan to divert millions of gallons of water reserved for Fresno to a neighboring water district struggling to provide water to farmers. (Fresno Bee)


California Drought News: Heat exacerbates drought woes, 'king almonds,' and more

California Power Grid Strained By Heat Wave

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Temperatures are expected to top 100 in many parts of Southern California this week.

Here comes the sun, and how...

  • High temperatures are expected to increase Southern California's drought woes. The lack of moisture in the soil will make this week's triple-digit heat wave feel even hotter, as our colleague Meghan McCarty explains (KPCC). 
  • Despite the drought and tight water supplies farmers continue to plant almond trees, which require double the amount of water as grapes but are more profitable (Fresno Bee).
  • The state capitol building is trying to set an example for the rest of California by not watering the lawn in downtown Sacramento's Capitol Park. Crews will still water the trees, though, some of which date back to the state's founding. (Sacramento Bee).
  • Nearly 325,000 customers in Riverside County were asked to limit their water use this weekend while crews made emergency repairs to a water line. (AP)


California Drought News: A likely El Niño, but will it be Godzilla or El Fizzle?

Los Angeles February Rain

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The likelihood of an El Niño and a wet winter has increased to 78%, but that doesn't necessarily mean an end to drought. Scientists say they want more time before anyone jumps to that conclusion.

Friday's news remind us of the Great Space Coaster. If no gnus is good gnus (with Gary Gnu), then will a puppet wildebeest tell you when something potentially good happens with impending climate patterns? Well, even if he won't, I will, so let's dig in. 

  • The probability of an El Niño next winter, a climatological pattern that often brings plenty of rain, just keeps going up and up. But that doesn't necessarily mean an end to drought:
"There are all kinds of El Niños: small, medium, large and Godzilla," said Bill Patzert, a research scientist and oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "I don't see the Godzilla,'' he said. "But I'll give it another couple of months. This still could be El Fizzle. I don't want to recommend that you invest any of your retirement in the umbrella market yet." (SJ Mercury-News/Paul Rogers)