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How Unusual Was the California Nevada Drought of 2012-2015?

In this timely study, as they describe it, Hatchett et al. (2015) strove to determine whether the hydro-climatic conditions that occurred during the 2012-2015 (hereafter current) California-Nevada drought were “within the range of natural variability documented by paleo-proxy indicators,” which they hoped could lead to the “disentanglement of the relative roles of natural versus anthropogenic forcing factors as causative agents.” So what did they do? And what did they learn?



BLOG: Judge Awards $8.9 Million in Attorneys’ Fees to Water Authority in MWD Rate Case

After losing a landmark judgment in 2015, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California must pay $8.9 million in attorneys’ fees to the San Diego County Water Authority, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Thursday. As the prevailing party, the Water Authority is entitled to its attorneys’ fees, according to the court order; a previous decision awarded the Water Authority more than $320,000 in court costs.

MWD now owes the Water Authority more than $243 million, including damages, costs, interest and attorneys’ fees. The bill, including the award of attorneys’ fees, accrues simple interest of 7 percent annually.


Spring Snow Leads Some Sierra Resorts to Extend Skiing into May

A spring storm dumped fresh snow to parts of the Sierra and delivered partly cloudy skies and gusty winds to the Sacramento region Monday, capping a weekend of hammock-worthy highs in the 70s.

Chain controls were in effect part of the day on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit. By midafternoon, 11 inches of snow had fallen over a 24-hour period at Northstar California Resort north of Lake Tahoe, said spokeswoman Marcie Bradley. That brought the snowfall total for the season at Northstar to 441 inches, she said.




Saving Water an Ongoing Effort at Sycuan

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation recently completed a major reduction in overall water usage through an aggressive conservation program, said Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez.

The program includes retrofitting irrigation equipment, removing and replacing water-dependent landscaping and increasing community awareness around the importance of water conservation. The program has reduced the Tribe’s reliance on groundwater at the golf course and resort by 25 percent, Martinez said. It has also allowed it to cut water use on properties within the Padre Dam and Otay municipal water districts by an average of 22 percent, he said.

New Cousin of El Niño May Forecast Summer Heat Waves Months in Advance

El Niño, or the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, is an occasional warming event in the Pacific Ocean that can initiate weather-related havoc across the U.S. Now, it has a new cousin. By examining 38 years of weather, atmospheric scientists have identified an ocean temperature anomaly — the Pacific Extreme Pattern — that can predict droughts on the East Coast up to two months before they hit. The team plans to build an alert system based on these findings, which could allow cities to prep for life-threatening heat waves, while also reducing people’s electric bills

Looking at Drought and Crops

How is climate change affecting agriculture? It depends.

Of 12 crops examined in Yolo County, walnuts are most vulnerable, while processing tomatoes and alfalfa acreage may increase due to warmer winters. In an effort to forecast how climate change may affect agriculture, University of California agricultural economists looked at how climate has affected crop acreage in the past. The effect of temperature changes on plants depends on local conditions and the crops grown.

4 Things to Know About Federal Drought Legislation

Congress is about to try again to help ease California’s drought. A handful of bills – some new, some held over from last year – will come up for debate in the weeks ahead.

The subject is as partisan as the presidential race, and a lot more complicated. That’s because, when you get politicians involved in water, the debate becomes fixated on righting perceived wrongs, and drifts irrevocably away from solving actual water supply problems. Such is the case with the present selection of bills before Congress, which come from both ends of the political spectrum.




Agencies Seek Two-Month Delay for Delta Tunnels Hearing

In response to dozens of pending protests, state and federal officials asked for a two-month delay in hearings that could decide the fate of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to build two massive tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

On Monday, the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation – the agencies that run the huge Delta pumps – requested a 60-day continuance on hearings that were scheduled to begin in early May at the State Water Resources Control Board.




Was March the Rainfall Miracle We’d Hoped For?

Yes, the Bay Area got a lot of rain this winter. But was it enough to end the drought?

Sadly, no. But there’s good news—this winter was the best we’ve had in five years in terms of precipitation. Rainfall in most Bay Area cities is about 100 percent of normal. San Francisco has received 21 inches of rain this winter, up from 16 inches last year.And the state’s two biggest reservoirs, Oroville and Shasta, are now more than 80 percent full. Last March, they hovered between 50 and 59 percent.

Questions and Answers About Saudi Land Purchases in the US

Almarai Co., Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company, has bought about 14,000 acres in drought-stricken Southern California and Arizona in an effort to grow hay for its massive herd of cows. The purchase has fueled debate over whether a patchwork of laws and court rulings give too much weight to growers of thirsty crops such as alfalfa.