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Dozens of High-Risk Bay Area Dams Lack Required Emergency Plans

The Bay Area is dotted with at least 145 dams where failure or misoperation could result in death or property destruction, yet many lack required emergency plans, according to an analysis of state data.

Most of these “high-hazard” dams were built before 1960. While not at a higher risk of failure, they could endanger countless homes and businesses that rest below the aging facilities, making emergency planning and maintenance increasingly important, experts said.

On Eve of Trump Visit, Critics Ask Why Newsom Hasn’t Fought President’s Water Moves

During President Trump’s visit to California this week, the commander in chief who campaigned on a pledge of shipping more water to Central Valley farms plans to stop in Bakersfield to boast about a promise kept.

His administration has succeeded in rolling back protections for fish in California, opening the door to more pumping from rivers and streams, and more irrigation deliveries for the state’s vast agricultural economy.

The endeavor is no surprise for a president who has been supportive of industry and hopes to rally rural voters behind his re-election bid. But what confounds some who are worried that Trump’s water plan could undermine the environment is how little the state has done to stop Washington.

A February Without Rain Could Boost Wildfire Danger in Northern California

Meteorologists say much of Northern California likely will not see a drop of rain in February, heightening concerns that summer will arrive with below-average rainfall and tinder-dry hillsides susceptible to wildfire.

It’s too early to declare the rainy season a bust, as there could be huge storms in March and April. But a bone-dry February would make it nearly impossible to catch up to seasonal expectations, meteorologists warn.

To Study Atmospheric Rivers, Scientists Need to Get Close. So They Fly to Them

The Air Force research crew on the WC-130J Super Hercules airplane was cruising at 28,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, preparing to deploy 25 weather-sensing devices over a long band of water vapor known as an “atmospheric river” when the hazards of air travel got in the way of science.

Lt. Col. Jeff Ragusa, a pilot with the Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the Hurricane Hunters, was on the second of 12 missions to study atmospheric river storms and was ready to drop the sensors when fuel suddenly began leaking from a tank, forcing the aircraft to turn back.

Atmospheric Rivers That Hit California Getting a Boost From Melting Arctic Ice

The fast-melting ice in the Arctic may be the primary cause of extreme weather across the globe, including some of the most violent, damaging storms to hit the Bay Area and California, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography study has found.

The Scripps paper, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first definitive study of the links between melting polar ice and changing climatic conditions reaching to the tropics, a cause-and-effect relationship that scientists had plenty of evidence for but had never precisely documented to this extent.

Black And Brown Muck: Can Overwhelmed S.F. Sewers Ever Stop Flooding?

After a weekend storm walloped San Francisco, officials say preventing flood damage from powerful rains in vulnerable areas of the city largely remains a pipe dream.

A storm that inundated San Francisco with more than an inch of rain in a single hour Saturday flooded two Muni light-rail stations, snarled traffic on Highway 101 and forced residents in parts of West Portal to wade through waist-deep water that surged into homes, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

Update: Tahoe Ski Resorts Open More Lifts, Terrain Before Next Snow Dump

Early-season snow is prompting 18 of the 21 major ski areas around Tahoe and the high Sierra to open by this weekend.

On Wednesday, snow was falling lightly on the ridges surrounding the Tahoe Basin, and a storm due to arrive this weekend will allow ski areas across the board to open more chairlifts, ski runs and terrain and position themselves for the blitz that comes with the Christmas-New Year’s holidays.

California Gov. Newsom Makes Move to Halt Trump Water Grab

California’s water wars escalated Thursday, as state leaders vowed to fight the Trump administration over plans to ship more water to Central Valley farms.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and members of his administration announced that they were preparing a lawsuit against the federal government to prevent California’s rivers and wildlife from being cheated out of vital supplies.

State leaders said boosting agricultural deliveries, a longtime campaign promise of the president, could upend fragile watersheds and threaten such protected fish as the iconic chinook salmon and delta smelt

Will It Rain Soon And End Bay Area’s Fire Season? It May Be Up To Russia

Say what you will about Russian interference, it just might get us Northern Californians out of this year’s precarious fire season.

Meteorologists are forecasting that around Nov. 10, a strong jet stream originating from Russia is likely to undercut the dominant high-pressure ridge sitting off the coast and provide much-needed moisture to the West Coast.

“Now the question is, how confident are we?” said Brent Wachter, a fire meteorologist with the North Operations Predictive Service. “Not very. But there’s a glimmer of hope.”

Climate Havoc Wipes Out Coastal Kelp As S.F. Bay’s Native Fish Species Die Off

A climate-related catastrophe off the California coast has resulted in the death of 90% of the kelp from San Francisco to Oregon as an explosion of ravenous urchins devours everything in sight. And it’s happening at the same time native fish in San Francisco Bay are dying out, two studies released Monday documented.

The studies, by government, university and scientific institute researchers, offer a disturbing look at an underwater ecosystem suffering more than anyone previously suspected — along the coast, in San Francisco Bay and in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.