California 2013 = Driest Calendar Year on Record by 20%…

SnowBrains | | WeatherWeather
california's driest year
Direst calendar year on record in California

2013 will be the driest calendar year on record.  Not only is it the driest calendar year on record, but it’s the driest calendar year on record by a huge margin of about 20%.

Ok, if you’re from California, that’s likely enough of that talk.  What we really want to know is why.  Why is California so dry right now?

California is so dry right now because of high pressure ridging.  We’ve had high pressure in California (which blocks low pressure and storms from entering California) all year long.

ca high pressure
High pressure blocking California from storms since January 2013. image: NOAA

Ok, we’ve got it.  It’s been record dry and it’s because of high pressure.  Now the question is:

Is there any end in sight to this drought in California?

In the short term, the unfortunate answer is a pretty definitive “no.” The operational medium-range forecast models are pretty unanimous in projecting a continuation of the mean blocking ridge over the northeastern Pacific for the next 1-2 weeks, with high-amplitude flow anomalies continuing to bring exceptionally dry conditions to the West Coast and exceptionally cold conditions (in the downstream trough) over the American Midwest and Great Plains well into January.

With such an extraordinarily persistent blocking pattern seemingly entrenched over the Pacific, it will take a very significant change in the overall flow pattern to disrupt the current status quo, and such a change is just not on the horizon at the moment. With reservoir levels now starting to drop very rapidly and certain water districts calling for at least voluntary water rationing measures, the exceptional dry spell of 2013 appears likely to continue into at least the early part of 2014.” – California Weather Blog

For now, we’re going to have to ride this out.  This is tough for us up in Tahoe as we’re watching the snow melt each day with no replenishment in sight.


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