Following nine years of research, a California agency has proposed to increase water flows in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. But the decision is causing contention between farmers and fisheries. The California State Water Resources Control Board says the proposal will prevent an ecological crisis, including the total collapse of fisheries. About 70,000 fall-run Chinook salmon adults returned to the San Joaquin Basin in 1984, but that number fell to just 8,000 in 2014.
Archive for month: July, 2018
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The way environmental activists in California’s Delta region tell it, there is no part of government in this state more arrogant than the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The huge MWD, supplier of water to the majority of the state’s populace, is certainly acting the part as it pushes for a project Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to make an irreversible fait accompli before he leaves office at the end of this year.
The calendar says it’s the first of August. But an unforgiving early wave of heat means that California’s landscape feels as dry as September, igniting a deadly wildfire season up and down the state. Hot and dry as a powder keg, recent weather has accelerated the normal drying of western landscapes, turning vegetation into kindling, say weather experts. Even nights are warm. “Fuels are really really dry. It’s closer to what we should get by late summer or early fall,” said professor Craig Clements, director of the Fire Weather Research Lab at San Jose State University.
San Diego County didn’t escape the extreme weather happening around the planet in July that produced massive fires above the Arctic Circle, a deadly heat wave in Japan, and a 124 degree day in Algeria believed to the highest temperature ever recorded in Africa. The county had it’s own set of remarkable temperatures that stressed both plants and people. The city of San Diego had its hottest July in a dozen years and its fifth hottest since 1874. The month was 5 degrees warmer than normal, and the 96 degrees recorded on July 6 was the third highest reading ever seen in July.
The northern Sacramento Valley was well on its way to recording the hottest July on record when the Carr fire swept into town Thursday. It was 113 degrees, and months of above-average temperatures had left the land bone-dry and ready to explode. Within a few hours, hundreds of structures were lost and six people killed.
Firefighters are waging war against 17 wildfires that cover 200,000 acres in California this week. Front-line dispatches suggest that, at least at times, they’ve lost the battle. The bodies of two children were found under a wet blanket with the remains of their great-grandmother hovering over them. Three firefighters and one bulldozer operator are dead. More than 700 homes have burned to the ground. Crews have struggled, at least in part, because they have never seen fires behave like this before.
A recent study is helping researchers understand the role of wind in the largest forest fires. Megafires are large, hard-to-manage burns with big economic costs. “These big fires are really hard to deal with,” said Natasha Stavros with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.
Last spring, Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought that caused over $5 billion in damage to agriculture as well as substantial impacts to fisheries, infrastructure, human health, and vegetation. The drought was not only severe, but it also spanned the winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17, which had unusual and unexpected precipitation that affected the drought’s evolution.
The Hoover Dam is one of the crown jewels of American infrastructure. It was one of the most ambitious projects of the early 20th century, requiring millions of cubic feet of concrete and tens of millions of pounds of steel to build a dam that could provide electricity to 1.3 million people. Millions of people visit the dam every year. It’s even been immortalized in song.
Sea surface temperatures in Southern California — especially spots in San Diego like Solana Beach — have been unusually warm for weeks. The National Weather Service issued a computer graphic late Monday that shows where the hottest temperatures are being recorded (the areas in red.) “Water temperatures from lifeguards are 72 to 78F and this is shown in satellite imagery depicting much above normal readings (anomaly) in the California Bight,” the weather service said on Facebook.