California Drought

The warm and dry January 2014 out west has come to an end! We have been writing about the California drought for weeks, and more proof of the worsening situation can be seen looking back on last month.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Sacramento, California posted an interesting bulletin with records and other significant notes from the region in January 2014 and the wet season so far. Some of the records are staggering, including the all-time record high temperature for January of 79°F on January 24, 2014 which shattered the old record of 74°F from January 31, 1976. In addition, Sacramento was dry for 52 consecutive days from December to January, and the old record was only 44 days (the old record also included much of November, which is typically not the height of the wet season like December and January).

Record high temperatures and record dry periods have been observed in other areas of California and the west as well. At this point, a very wet February, March, and April would be the only chance of “catching up” to average precipitation amounts for the season. Looking into the future at long-range weather forecasts, we are not able to invest much confidence in this occurring because the stubborn blocking pattern has been so dominant in steering Pacific storms well north of California. There are not indications that drought improvement is around the corner. However, any Pacific moisture is better than none at all, and we will be grateful for whatever we can get the remainder of the season.

Here is the bulletin from the National Weather Service: