DISCUSSION: One year later and effects of drought are still seen amid the possibility of decreasing drought conditions due to 2016-2017 winter rain season in California. Although California has seen drought difficulties recently which amount to extreme burn scars, flash flooding, mud and landslides, some benefit has come from this yearly comparison.
Comparing the January 31st, 2017 monitor to the January 30th, 2018 monitor, the light at the end of the tunnel is still no observable D4, exceptional drought index seen within the state. There has also been a decrease in D3-D4 drought down 1.87 % to zero this week, D2-D4 decrease of 15.38%, and D1-D4 decrease of 7.08%. The drought monitor is indicating an increase in at least D0 (abnormally dry) areas within California, extending to a large portion of the state at nearly 73.33%.
This abnormally dry area is attributed to nearly 6+ months of drier weather impacting, “California and Nevada northward across the Great Basin to Oregon and southern Idaho,” according to Richard Heim, NOAA/NCEI. Reports are indicating some difficulties for livestock ranchers with decreasing forage and water supplies especially due to deceased snowpack and dried vegetation. Heim states we are seeing weather patterns, “typical of spring than mid-winter.” However, despite some increased D0 conditions California has fared well in dryness management given landscape and water resources.
For more information on drought impacts, please visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
©2018 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
Despite Historic Hurricane, South Still Left Out to Dry (Credit: NWS Corpus Christi, US Drought Monitor)
DISCUSSION: As the year draws to a close, it is important to look back at major weather events and see if and how the effects can linger into the new year. The hurricane season is one of the most important aspects of the meteorological calendar, and this year was no exception.
Hurricane Harvey first made landfall on August 25, 2017 in San Jose Island, Texas and then near the Fulton and Rockport, Texas area at around 10pm CDT (11pm EDT). Winds maxed at nearly 130 mph. In the four days Hurricane Harvey battered the Texas Coast, many areas saw over 30 inches of rain (see photo).
The drought monitor has certainly changed in the south compared to one year ago, although perhaps not in the way one would think. On December 13, 2016, 42.66% of the land was not experiencing any kind of drought conditions. Fast forward almost a year to December 12, 2017 and now only 23.96% of the land is not under drought conditions. Despite the torrential amount of rain that was received from Hurricane Harvey (excluding any other storms), there are generally more areas under drought conditions this year than last year, with severe conditions persisting particularly in northeast Texas, northwest Louisiana, southeast Oklahoma and nearly half of Arkansas. On the other hand, 100% of Tennessee was under drought conditions at this time last year, and currently only 31.86% are under drought conditions.
Take a look at the drought monitor, or choose to read more about Hurricane Harvey.
For more updates on droughts and other weather events, visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri
Exceptional drought, the most severe case of drought, has developed in North Dakota, and Montana. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the United States has gone 25 weeks without a case of exceptional drought until the U.S Drought Monitor released their data on July 18, 2017. During the Drought Monitor week, an upper-level ridge of high pressure covered the western United States. Rainfall was hindered and temperatures soared as the ridge sat over the west. Stations in the excessive drought area have reported little to no rainfall. Crops have taken a damaging hit from high temperatures and very little rainfall. Burn bans have been issued in several Tribes in eastern Montana and the Rocky Boys reservation has reported water shortages. Looking ahead, rain showers have moved across northern and central plains since the Drought Monitor was released. Above average monsoon rainfall is expected to continue over the southeast. Temperatures are expected to stay above normal for much of the United States over the week ahead.
Stay tuned for the weekly Drought Monitor here!
ⓒ 2017 Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell
DISCUSSION: Drought conditions in the high plains have gradually worsened over the course of the year. This includes the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado. Severe and extreme drought has expanded across eastern Montana, south-central North Dakota and northwest South Dakota where dry and hot conditions have persisted. Many areas this past week across the Dakotas had temperatures climb well into the 90s, with many even reaching triple digits.
In northwestern South Dakota, the South Dakota State University Extension staff reported “poor pasture and range conditions as well as deteriorating crop conditions.” The lack of precipitation and extreme heat has wreaked havoc on farming. In Glasgow, Montana, the National Weather Service Office reported several dry precipitation records were broken for Glasgow; this includes the driest January through June since 1983 (2.75 inches). In Montana, only 52.28% of the land is currently not experiencing any kind of drought conditions (image above). In the high plains, only 53.49% of the region is currently not under any drought conditions.
For more information on the drought, click here!
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©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri
DISCUSSION: In more than 5 years California had seen unprecedented precipitation starting Fall 2016-Spring 2017. These rains have brought both positivity and negativity to the residents of California. Californians can celebrate as its drought monitor has shown as far back at October 2016 when consistent rains began in the area there was no percentage area not covered by some D0-D4 drought, showing 100 percent of the state experiencing D0-D4 drought, conditions that plagued California for over 5 years. In comparison to the past reported week of May 16th 2017, the state is rid of 76.47% of drought while 23.53 of the state experiences from D0-D4 which can be seen in southern California. These improvements may increase crop yields, economy and livelihoods within the state.
Conversely California has now had to address the dramatic amounts of precipitation seen in the past several months. The deluge of precipitation has brought concern among water infrastructure, dam capacity, flooding, and of recent concern landslides and mudslides. One of the most highly impacted locations due to increased water retention is the area along the Big Sur Coast between Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties.
Within the past two months the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge had been demolished due to the excess damage it experienced due to localized landslides. This structure originally built in 1968 is expected to be replaced this year with a reopening of September with a cost of $24 million (Caltrans). These costs do not include the difficulties Big Sur residents are now facing as some cannot pass northbound into Monterey County, likewise Big Sur coast is typically a scenic tourist location which is already seeing increased financial difficulties as visitors cannot visit due to the temporary road closures.
Earlier this week (May 20th, 2017) a major landslide impacted the Big Sur area, extending about a quarter mile with Highway 1 covered in nearly 40 feet deep of rock and dirt. The road is closed indefinitely with no indications for opening in sight. The increased landslides seen in this area are attributed to the influx of precipitation the area received within the past 6 months. There has been relief lately however this rain-packed season has proved challenging for Big Sur residents and employees.
For more updates on droughts and weather visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
© Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
California, Caltrans State of. "Caltrans Removes Damaged Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, Plans to Quickly Re-build." Caltrans Title. Tamie McGowen, 11 Apr. 2017. Web. 24 May 2017.
"Maps And Data." United States Drought Monitor > Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2017.
DISCUSSION: While parts of the United States get battered by rain as spring ensues, the Southeast is left out to dry. This includes the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The majority of the Southeast has a humid, subtropical climate and is known for its relatively uniform and low-lying flood-prone land. However, now three-quarters of the land are in the midst of a drought.
The change in the drought monitor for the Southeast United States has been astounding. On April 5, 2016, only 16.53% of the Southeast were experiencing any kind of drought conditions. This only included the D0 level, which is abnormally dry, and there were no other levels of more severe drought conditions. In comparison, as of April 4, 2017, 41.07% of the Southeast were experiencing D0 drought conditions. In addition, 26.56% were experiencing D1 drought conditions, 7.96% experiencing D2 drought conditions, and 1.08% experiencing D3 drought conditions. This means a total of 76.67% of the Southeast were experiencing some type of drought condition.
The land has become so unusually dry that water from large rain events can’t properly be absorbed into the ground, causing flooding. In October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew provided some relief on the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, but it did not reach inland enough to lessen the more serious drought effects. There is hope as hurricane season approaches that some tropical systems can provide some help to the drought-ridden Southeast United States.
For additional discussions on weather stay tuned to the Global Weather and Climate Center for updates!
©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri
DISCUSSION: Winter has certainly proved to be a fruitful season for California, but with the fruits of labor that mother nature has provided, she has also brought devastation for many as Californian’s are still experiencing effects of the changing drought landscape. The rainy season is typically marked from late October through March in California, this season brings the majority of yearly rainfall to the region, in addition to heavy impacts of flooding, and mud/landslides.
Data beginning October 4th, 2016 through February 28th, 2017 has shown stunning changes in the drought monitor. Approximating from the beginning of October, there was 0% area without some D0-D4 drought in the state, with 100% experiencing at least D0 drought conditions. 21.04% of the state had experienced D4 highest drought of Exceptional Drought according to the monitor. Conversely by February 28th, 2017, California has reported that 74.49% of the state is NOT experiencing drought. With this D3-D4 and D4 drought has been completely eliminated from the monitor altogether, still with some time left in this rainy season. The drought monitor still indicating those experiencing the drought conditions located in Southern California, which have benefited from recent precipitation but still 25.51% to go to completely eliminate drought from the states’ monitor.
The next few weeks will prove to be one for the books as California’s rainy season may see an end. For more information on California’s drought or other weather related items visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
~Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
DISCUSSION: Of increased interest has been the diminishing figures of high drought intensity in California. The holiday season proved to be fruitful especially into the New Year as we wrap up our first month into 2017. With the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, the weather in the Eastern Pacific has been enough to keep us captivated from the Pineapple Express to the expansive low that brought unsettled weather this week to the Western states.
Attached are images of the U.S. Drought Monitor for the state of California, January 26th, 2016 and January 31st, 2017 nearly a year apart. During our last investigation, observing the drought monitor for December 2015 and December 2016, impacts for D4 Exceptional Drought had decreased nearly 40%. With data taken from January 2016 and January 2017 D4 Exceptional Drought is at a 0%, even with D3 Extreme Drought at 1.87% with 38.98% of the states’ area not experiencing any drought, whereas there was 0% reportable of no drought conditions seen in the state.
Within 52 weeks the US Drought Monitor has published a class change from January 31st, 2017 compared to February 2nd, 2016. Many of the changes reported can be seen in central/northern California, seeing as much as 5 Class Improvement. There is still work to be done however as southern California reports no change to some 2 Class degradation in drought. Degradation isn’t entirely apparent however reviewing the January 31st release, much of the D0-D3 drought area is concentrated in central/southern California.
Follow the Global Weather and Climate Center for updates on this and other meteorological events!
~Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
DISCUSSION: As a consequence of the recent heavy rainfall totals which have been deposited across many parts of the state of California, the drought situation has greatly improved across much of the state. Having said that, there are still many problem areas which are scattered about various parts of California (as also detailed more in the graphic attached above which is courtesy of the forecasters over at the National Weather Service office located in San Diego, California). Attached below is a brief excerpt taken directly from the Facebook post as posted by the National Weather Service office located in San Diego, California. Be sure to read the information attached above to learn more about the latest on this ongoing drought situation impacting areas across the state of California.
"Thanks to a very wet January, California’s drought woes are improving. Since the start of the water year on 1 October 2016 over one-third of the state has been removed from drought by the U. S. Drought Monitor. California’s largest reservoir, the Sierra Snowpack, is looking very healthy right now thanks to January being the snowiest month on record for many locations in the Sierra Nevada including Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain. However, much of California is still in a drought due to dry conditions since 2012 leaving some places in Southern California with precipitation deficits of one to two years worth of rainfall."
To learn more about other drought-related information from around the world, be sure to click here!
©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
California Drought, 5 Years Deep with Drastic Changes Between December 2015 and December 2016! (Credit: Meteorologist Jessica Olsen)
DISCUSSION: As 2016 quietly came to an end, we reflect on notable meteorological phenomenon that occurred throughout the year. Of recent observation has been some improvement in the drought monitor for the state of California.
We've attached two US Drought Monitor data sheets showcasing December 29th, 2015 and December 27th, 2016. The differences are quite staggering. California having spent the past 5 years in a significant drought have made conditions for residents challenging. From low-flow toilets, and shower heads to considerable increases in water prices, Californians are feeling the pull on their wallets, land, and agriculture. This goes without saying that reservoir levels have been dire in addition to increased tree death, greater unforeseen fire impacts and decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range.
Reviewing just monthly data we've extrapolated statements of drought intensity. December 29th, 2015 (2015) had clearly been more drought stricken than the month of December 27th, 2016 (2016). In 2015 for D4 classified drought intensity as Exceptional Drought, D4 qualified 44.84% of the California area, whereas 2016 D4 qualified 18.31% of the California area. A drop of nearly 41% in D4 drought intensity compared to that of a year ago.
Of note is author Brad Rippey of the US Department of Agriculture indicating;
"Despite heavy autumn and/or early-winter precipitation nearly region-wide, this season's snowpack remains below average in many California and Southwestern basins, owing to several "warm" storms that have produced more rain than snow. For example, California's Department of Water Resources noted that the average water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 6 inches, about 70% of the late-December average but less than one-quarter of the typical April 1 seasonal peak. Still, Western precipitation has been heavy enough in nearly all areas to warrant some improvement in recent weeks, and further improvement could be dictated if strong storms continue to occur and if the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service issues and optimistic Western water supply outlook in early January."
As winter has only begun, the National Drought Summary is seemingly more optimistic than traditional forecasts, yet January will remain a month for monitoring. As we anticipate a La Niña pattern it is suspected that precipitation may increase in Northern California while Southern California would experience decreased precipitation. This years' weak La Niña is following one of the strongest El Niño seasons on record, despite normal precipitation in Northern California and below-normal in Southern California.
~Meteorologist Jessica Olsen