Saturday, December 20, 2014

California Drought Improving Dramatically with Third Storm System This Month

You probably saw the headlines: "11 trillion gallons of rain still needed to end California drought".
The geek denizens of Slashdot did the math for us: 
11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought
It is about 10cm or 4 inches spread over the entire state.
There are 264 gallons per cubic meter. So 11 trillion gallons is 4.16e10 m^3. California has an area of 424,000 km^2, or 4.24e11 m^2. So divide the volume by the area, and you get the depth = 4.16e10/4.24e11 = 0.098 m or 9.8 cm or about 4 inches.
From Reuters:
California's winter storms spark hope for recovery from three-year drought

The wet weather that has soaked California for the past few weeks may be a sign that the state is beginning to pull out of its devastating three-year drought, climate experts said on Friday.

With precipitation already higher than normal for this time of year and rain in the northern part of the state on Friday, experts are "cautiously optimistic" that the dry cycle may be starting to ease, said Courtney Obergfell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

Part of the reason is that a weather pattern that had blocked storms from reaching California since the winter of 2012-2013, dubbed the "ridiculously resilient ridge," by meteorologists, has dissipated.

"We're seeing periods where storms can make their way into California," Obergfell said.

Rain was forecast for the northern part of the state throughout the day on Friday, with showers continuing into Saturday, Obergfell said. Another storm system could bring more rain starting Christmas Eve, she said....MUCH MORE

Always remember: "California: The Last 200 Years Were The Happy Time For Weather, Get Ready For A Return to The West Without Water". 

Dec. 17
Some Improvement In the California Drought
Dec. 11
Big Storm For San Francisco Means Uber Jacks Prices to Highest Ever
Dec. 10
El Niño: "The ARkStorm Scenario Could Flood California's Central Valley like a Bathtub and Cost $725 Billion"

See also:
Straight Talk on Weather and Climate: "Will California's Drought Bring About $7 Broccoli?"
Two quick points:
1) The Great American Desert was called that for a reason. The weather of the U.S. over the last 150 years is an anomaly in the longer history.
2) The subsidization of row crops, corn in particular, is a political decision that severely distorts investment and thus nutrition outcomes....
Finally, a graphic representation from the U.S. Drought Monitor maintained by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National Drought Mitigation Center: