Monday, January 9, 2012

Has NorCal entered another drought?

Technically we are, says former Record Searchlight weather expert Scott Mobley (via Marc Beauchamp).
NorCal is officially in a "moderate" drought as of Jan. 3 according to the Palmer Drought Index. Storm-blocking ridge in place at least another week though rogue low might slip through tomorrow. This pattern will eventually shift, but look at Texas and Hawaii and parts of the southeast, where drought has persisted several years now. Scary indeed. [...]

Long-range ensemble forecasts suggest a wet pattern developing for Northern California starting around the 18th, still about 10 days out. These forecasts suggest decent, widespread precip chances at least through Jan. 22, their outer horizon. That's by no means a guarantee rain and snow will start falling later this month but at least it's an indication the dry spell won't last forever. This particular model actually represents a consensus of all the models out there, so it's less error-prone, but still, no forecast 10-days-plus out is particularly reliable. But here's hope. If we can get a decent series of storms going in late mid-January and another in February and so on into spring, the water season won't be a total bust, though odds of it bringing surpluses and a full lake are remote.
Kevin Kester of the California Cattlemen's Association told me over the weekend that if significant rain doesn't come in the next couple of weeks, look for guys to start paring their herds. This morning I went out looking at rangelands with Josh Davy of the UC Cooperative Extension, and they looked pretty brutal. Even if it started raining tomorrow, we probably couldn't expect a great year when it comes to feed.

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