Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major floodplains.
A massive storm barreled toward Southern California on Monday after flooding highways, toppling trees, cutting power and causing rock slides and mud flows in areas burned bare by wildfires across the northern half of the state.
Drenching rains and strong winds accompanied the weekend arrival of an atmospheric river — a long plume of Pacific moisture — into the drought-stricken state.
Rainfall records were shattered and heavy snow pounded high elevations of the Sierra Nevada. The National Weather Service issued numerous flash flood warnings.
The explorer John Wesley Powell once poked fun at the professional rainmakers of his time, writing, “Years of drought and famine come and years of flood and famine come, and the climate is not changed with dance, libation or prayer.”
As we now know, humans can change the climate — one reason the current drought is so intense, sparking what could be a record wildfire season and depleting mighty reservoirs such as Mead and Oroville.
As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply. A report for the State Water Resources Control Board recommends tailoring new water rights permits to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.
San Diego officials plan to spend the next five months analyzing what size tax increase city voters would likely support in November 2022 to pay for projects that boost flood prevention and water quality.
The ballot measure would be the first opportunity for San Diegans to vote to raise taxes on themselves to tackle an estimated $6 billion infrastructure backlog that city officials began calling San Diego’s No. 1 challenge eight years ago.
An intense cold front will tap into subtropical moisture and take on atmospheric river characteristics as it moves southeastward through the Central Coast on Wednesday into Thursday.
At this time, between 2 and 4 inches of rain is expected along the Central Coast. However, if the front stalls over a particular area, rainfall amounts will be much higher.
The fire that rampaged through the San Lorenzo Valley in August and September burned hotter and destroyed more acreage than anyone in these rugged, rural and breathtaking mountains can remember.
At the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, researchers feel the urgency as they examine connections between West Coast precipitation and a devastating wildfire season, which has yet to conclude.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday to protect nearly a third of California’s land and coastal waters in his latest effort to fight climate change that he has blamed for recent record-breaking wildfires.
Californians are understandably focused on the wildfires that have charred more than 3 million acres and darkened our skies – forcing us to find masks that protect us from both COVID-19 and smoke. But Californians should also pay attention to the multiple hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast this season.