Unprecedented Precipitation in Drought-Stricken California (Credit: Meteorologist Jessica Olsen)
DISCUSSION – California is experiencing one of the worst droughts it has seen in years. According to the USGS 2016 is proving to be in the 5th year of a severe drought, this coupled with the time period between June 2015-May 2016 being the 3rd warmest on record for the state.
Much to everyone’s surprise, people in the central California area, including the lower Bay area, and Monterey Peninsula are waking up to unseen precipitation.
By Saturday evening a frontal system had pulled into the area, causing widespread precipitation from the North into the Bay and lower Bay areas. As of 1000 UTC much of the frontal band has shifted southward into the Monterey Bay Peninsula, and as far north as Sacramento, into portions of Nevada. It is expected that this frontal boundary will stall and possibly shift northward as the day progresses, which may bring more precipitation to the San Francisco Bay area. This is all associated with a shortwave upper level trough dipping at 850mb but prominent near 250mb. This shortwave trough is seen at nearly 35,000 feet! All of which is indicative of decreases in temperature as the air becomes denser. As this air cools when it rises a trough can be seen, which at times may bring cooler, unsettled weather associated with precipitation. However, we should expect to see drier weather will come back into the area by Monday morning as a high pressure ridge is building over California into Sunday evening.
Given recent advancements in hydrologic science, more information regarding the California drought, including its impacts can be found at the USGS.
For additional discussions on weather stay tuned to the Global Weather and Climate Center for updates!
~Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
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