Posts

Hot Again: 2020 Sets Yet Another Global Temperature Record

Earth’s rising fever hit or neared record hot temperature levels in 2020, global weather groups reported Thursday.

While NASA and a couple of other measurement groups said 2020 passed or essentially tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, more agencies, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said last year came in a close second or third. The differences in rankings mostly turned on how scientists accounted for data gaps in the Arctic, which is warming faster than the rest of the globe.

Here’s How Much Snow is Typical During the Second Half of Winter

The halfway point of meteorological winter is Friday, Jan. 15, and while that might seem like the light at the end of the tunnel for those tired of snow and cold, many cities still average more than half their season’s snowfall after this date.

Winter in meteorological record-keeping is from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. But for some parts of the nation, snowy conditions are still possible deep into March and even April.

2020 Ties 2016 as Hottest Year on Record, Even Without Warming Boost from El Niño

Global warming pushed temperatures into record territory in 2020, in effect tying 2016 as the hottest year on record, according to data released Thursday by U.S. science agencies.

Last year’s average global surface temperature was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the late 19th century average, according to NASA. It was the fifth consecutive year of more than 2 degrees above that base line. Indeed, the seven hottest years in 140 years of record keeping are the last seven. In descending record order, they are 2020 and 2016, 2019, 2017, 2015, 2018 and 2014.

A “Forever” Drought Takes Shape in the West

The Southwest U.S. is mired in an ever-worsening drought, one that has left deer starving in Hawaii, turned parts of the Rio Grande into a wading pool, and set a record in Colorado for the most days of “exceptional drought.”

Dry Weather Pattern Comes On Heels of One of the Driest, Warmest Falls On Record

December through February is historically when some of the biggest weather systems arrive in Northern California with big rain and snow totals. While March can also be a big snow month, the window of opportunity for big rain and snow totals starts to narrow.

Now, long range outlooks are calling for a week and half long stretch of unseasonably dry and warm weather.

Opinion: Water Markets Critical to Managing Scarcity

As COVID started to spread, farmers and large cities in Southern California were hit with another blindside last March. Fires, drought, and the planting season drove up the price of California’s water market, over 220 percent in just three months. Crops failed and pastures were lost.

Climate’s Toll on the Colorado River: ‘We Can Weather Maybe a Couple of Years’

Beside a river that winds through a mountain valley, the charred trunks of pine trees lie toppled on the blackened ground, covered in a thin layer of fresh snow. Weeks after flames ripped through this alpine forest, a smoky odor still lingers in the air.

The fire, called the East Troublesome, burned later into the fall than what once was normal. It cut across Rocky Mountain National Park, racing up and over the Continental Divide. It raged in the headwaters of the Colorado River, reducing thick forests to ashes and scorching the ground along the river’s banks.

Dry Start to California’s Water Year

A dry start to California’s water year is reflected in the season’s first snow survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The statewide snowpack is 52% of average for Dec. 30. On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30% of California’s water needs.

“The first snowpack survey of the water year points to California’s climate variability, which is why a diverse water portfolio is needed to provide a reliable supply,” said Goldy Herbon, San Diego County Water Authority senior water resources specialist. “The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have successfully diversified water sources, and continue to expand those sources, to ensure our supply meets the needs of the region’s 3.3 million people and its $245 billion economy.”

Why It’s Way Too Early to Worry About Rain Deficits in SoCal

Yes, it’s been pretty dry so far this winter, but there is no need to worry. The major winter storm that roared through Southern California Monday proved we can erase a month’s worth of rain deficit in one day. I recently explained how the climate where we live — the Mediterranean Climate — sees the majority of its annual rainfall in the winter months. In fact, a whopping 80% of Southern California’s annual rain and snow falls from December through March.

dry start-snowpack survey-water year-Guzman-primary

Dry Start to California’s Water Year

A dry start to California’s water year is reflected in the season’s first snow survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The statewide snowpack is 52% of average for Dec. 30. On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30% of California’s water needs.

The California Department of Water Resources manual survey at Phillips Station recorded 30.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 10.5 inches, which is 93% of the January 1 average at that location, according to DWR officials. The snow water equivalent,or SWE, measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

While the Phillips Station measurement was positive, DWR’s electronic readings from 130 stations placed throughout California show the statewide snowpack’s SWE is 5 inches, or 52% of the December 30 average.

“The snow survey results reflect California’s dry start to the water year and provide an important reminder that our state’s variable weather conditions are made more extreme by climate change,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We still have several months left to bring us up to average, but we should prepare now for extended dry conditions. The Department, along with other state agencies and local water districts, is prepared to support communities should conditions remain dry.”

Water supply diversity meets regional demand

“The first snowpack survey of the water year points to California’s climate variability, which is why a diverse water portfolio is needed to provide a reliable supply,” said Goldy Herbon, San Diego County Water Authority senior water resources specialist. “The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have successfully diversified water sources, and continue to expand those sources, to ensure our supply meets the needs of the region’s 3.3 million people and its $245 billion economy.”

The supply sources include water from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, where ten workers volunteered to live on-site in 2020 to keep the water flowing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sierra Nevada Snowpack-Snow Water Content

Climate change brings less snow

When the Sierra Nevada snowpack melts, it feeds into rivers and is stored in reservoirs across California. Reservoirs are tapped as needed during the dry months. However, state officials again said that climate change is affecting California’s snowpack, as more precipitation falls as rain and less as snow. And they urged Californians to make water conservation a “way of life.”

“Today’s survey brought a first glimpse of how the state’s snowpack is shaping up, but there is a lot of winter still ahead,” said Sean de Guzman, chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section. “While the dry conditions during late summer and fall have led to a below average snowpack, it is still encouraging to have the amount of snow we already have with two of the three typically wettest months still to come.”

DWR conducts five snow surveys at Phillips Station each winter near the first of each month, January through April and, if necessary, May. Guzman said the next survey is scheduled for February 2.

dry start-snow survey-water year

Sean De Guzman (R), chief of the California Department of Water Resources Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section, and Jeremy Hill, DWR water resources engineer, conduct the first snow survey of the 2021 season at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. Photo: Kelly M. Grow/DWR