Northern California rain at times this week; amplified North Pacific ridge to return?

Filed in Uncategorized by on February 13, 2014 413 Comments

Summary of recent atmospheric river precipitation event (Feb. 7-9)

A significant atmospheric river event affected much of Northern California this past weekend, bringing widespread precipitation and a fairly narrow band of impressively heavy rainfall extending from the coastal mountains north of San Francisco to the northeastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada. In this region of enhanced precipitation, storm-totals exceeded 5 inches and in a few orographically-favored locations even exceeded 10 inches. Sacramento finally received some significant rainfall from this event, and rainfall in the San Francisco Bay Area varied tremendously from north to south (from over 10 inches at Cazadero and Mt. Tamalpais to less than 0.25 inches in parts of the Santa Clara Valley).

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Folsom Lake inflow after early Feb atmospheric river event… 

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vs. before early Feb atmospheric river event. (Photos by Jeff Houser)

This dramatic local and regional variation in precipitation is not uncommon during wintertime precipitation events that are primarily orographically-driven, as was the case with the extremely moist but relatively weak “Pineapple Express” system this past weekend. There were some local flooding impacts due to the locally excessive rainfall–a situation which may well have been exacerbated by the low infiltration capacity of the record-dry soils throughout California–but overall this was a beneficial rain event. Snow levels in the Sierra were quite high, but most places saw at least some accumulations on the back end of the storm as snow levels dropped (and those relatively few regions above 8000 feet received heavy snowfall for the duration of the event).

 

Did the recent (locally) heavy rainfall bust the California drought?

While the recent atmospheric river did bring much-needed precipitation to parts of Northern California, California is unquestionably still in the midst of an extraordinary drought. The most recent update of the Drought Monitor depicts a slight (and likely

20140211_CA_trd

temporary) reduction in the severity of the drought over parts of NorCal that received heavy precipitation from the atmospheric river, but the core of the drought region remains in “exceptional” territory–the most severe categorization. Rainfall intensity was sufficiently high to generate substantial runoff in some regions that were already experiencing critical short-term water shortages–such as the eastern suburbs of Sacramento (i.e. Folsom Reservoir) and communities in Mendocino County (including the Willits area). Inflows to many of NorCal’s major reservoirs spiked over the weekend, and for the first time in many months net storage actually increased statewide.

But what impact did this storm really have in the scheme of things? A quick glance at California’s current precipitation deficits answers that question pretty definitively. The figures below depict the percent-of-average precipitation for the last 30 days and for the “water year” to date (since October 1st). The main point here is that the locally heavy precipitation event this past weekend was barely enough to bring the regions that received the heaviest precipitation up to average–just for the month! Essentially all of California remains below 50% of average for the season to date, and most of the state is still below 25% of average.

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Percent-of-average rainfall; 30 days (left), Water Year 2013-2014 to date (right). (NWS)

 

Near-term outlook: some NorCal rain, mostly light

The plume of enhanced atmospheric water vapor that brought heavy precipitation to NorCal last weekend has shifted northward, but is actually still bringing significant precipitation to Pacific Northwest and as far south as the North Coast region in California. This rain will likely persist for a few more days and probably spread southward later this weekend, though any precipitation that makes it down as far south as the Sacramento/San Francisco regions is likely to be quite light. This pattern may repeat itself once more later during the coming week as a strong storm system develops over the Eastern Pacific but weakens dramatically as it approaches California. Precipitation this coming week will be much less substantial than what was observed last weekend, and areas south of the Bay Area are (once again) unlikely to see any precipitation whatsoever. Despite recent hopes that the overall pattern would transition towards a more active state for a more extended period of time, recent model solutions are increasingly suggesting that ridging will once again start to build off of the West Coast during week 2, bringing a return to dry and generally stable weather conditions for most of California during the second half of February.

 

What happened to the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?

Many readers may be wondering about the fate of the RRR, which has been a frustratingly persistent feature of our weather over the past 14 months. It’s certainly true that the ridge in the northeastern Pacific has weakened considerably over the past two weeks, and the portion over the Gulf of Alaska has essentially disappeared. At the same time, the semi-permanent East Pacific subtropical high has remained unusually strong for this time of year, which is the primary reason that Southern California has remained high and dry even as far northern parts of the state have recently received substantial precipitation.

The RRR, as defined back in December, is not a categorically monolithic feature–it has waxed and waned considerably during its period of relevance, shifting around between the central North Pacific east of the Aleutian Islands in the Gulf of Alaska in the west and the Pacific Coast of North America in the east. In general, though, a region of high-amplitude ridging and associated highly-anomalous wind patterns have been present somewhere within this box more often than not since last January. Despite slight breaks in the ridge’s dominance and longitudinal shifts in its primary axis, this atmospheric pattern has ultimately resulted in the extraordinary persistence of record-dry conditions throughout California. For this reason, I’m reluctant to announce the “death” of the RRR until we’ve experienced at least a month of more typical atmospheric conditions.

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GFS ensemble forecast depicting re-emergence of ridging along West Coast in late February. (NCEP)

Unfortunately, it now appears that the RRR may try to make a comeback during the second half of February. Recent model solutions are bringing considerably drier and more stable conditions back to California after the coming week’s light rainfall, and the ensembles are starting to hint at an all-too-familiar pattern of geopotential height anomalies over the northeastern Pacific. At the moment, the projected magnitude of these anomalies doesn’t look quite as extreme as the record-shattering ones observed in January, but this pattern could lead to much-below-average rainfall in California once again as we head toward March 1st. It’s hard to say at this point how long this new dry pattern might last once it becomes established, but at the moment it does not appear that any sustained period of widespread, significant period of precipitation is on the horizon.

© 2014 WEATHER WEST

 

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  • Richard Mann

    Working to keep the “spin” more positive where looking at all things more favorable and against the idea of a more significant drought potential at this point, .. Regarding the more active and wetter, overall pattern shift that you’ve pointed to above suggested where looking at the ensembles, .. Although the general projection looking out to 2 weeks is currently leaning toward some amount of, even more significant, ridging setting in again during later Feb., .. If there has in fact been a general shift toward wetter conditions at this point as a opposed to more dryer, that transition could perhaps show up both as and with the current more southward movement and expansion of cold from the north working to squeeze out a bit more rain and snow than is currently being looked at as probable, this with and then perhaps the ridging forecasted, being only more short-lived, and a wetter regime similar in character to this one, returning again in early March.

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  • Loyal Brooks

    Here is a link from NASA released today showing (and explaining) the stress of this drought on the vegetation from space. It seems that there is a “bathtub ring” of extreme stress in the foothills all around the central valley. Marin co. and along the south-central coast also seem extremely stressed. If interested, here’s the link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83124&src=fb

    • craig matthews

      On the upper parts of the coast range the coulter pine, or some call it big cone pine, are dying in large groups. Combination of pine beetle and a weekend cambium from this drought. Sad to see these pines go, especially in areas where ive been backpacking since I was a kid. At least I took pictures back then so I can look at the way it use to be. Very sad to see this happening.

      • Loyal Brooks

        You bring up something I am curious about. California has more species of pine than any other nation except for Mexico. The diversity of the pine genus around you is exceptional, and because of the fire ecology of most of CA, there has evolved a special group of pines: the closed-cone pines (bishop, Monterey and knobcone). They hold their cones closed until they open after a fire’s heat melts the resin, and release their seeds safely only on mineral-rich ash after a fire has passed.

        There is a peculiar trait among Coulter pines – there are stands where the cones open without a fire, and there are other stands that are strictly closed-cone. Coulter pines are variable. In the drought-stressed coulter pines you describe, are the most vulnerable ones mostly closed cone or mostly open cone? This is a tremendous clue as to what is going on with these trees. Thanks!

        • craig matthews

          These are open cone coulter pine{or big cone pine as locals call it} found at or above 2.5 thousand feet in the coast range of Monterey county. I spend a lot of time in these mountains. I have not seen any closed cone coulter pine, but that doesn’t mean they are not here of course. And then we have santa lucia fir, which is only found in the santa lucia range on Monterey county, and no where else in the world. These fir trees seam to be doing well in this drought. They grow in very steep rocky areas where basically nothing else grows, not even brush or grass. Just in Monterey county alone we have several very unique species with different varieties then anywhere else in the state. Interesting though is that the drought seams to be affecting the coulter pines the hardest as well as knobcone pine. Although we are starting to see other pine species dying as well.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Yes, Craig, I imagine you are part of the land. So, about the coulter pine, they are variable in the way described above “in stands.” Perhaps that is regional as well – I don’t know. I have hit the books regarding this pine, and I am surprised to see that there is very little known about it. Since the wood is brittle and prone to warping, very little research has been done on this tree.

            It is for reasons as this that your personal observations are important to report. At least I now have a lead to work with.

            The Santa Lucia fir is actually pretty well known for being the rarest fir on the planet. The fir is endemic or “stranded” in evolutionary terms in those mountains, and has followed a course like no other fir – as you well know. Back around 2006 or so, a very small outlying grove was found in the Santa Susana Mountains in S CA.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Then there is the Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana) which is native to the San Diego County coast from Del Mar to just north of La Jolla, and they are also found on one of the Channel Islands (I can’t remember which one). I haven’t heard about them suffering from the drought, but I will bet that the fog drip and marine layer drizzle provides enough water for them during the course of the season, along with seasonal rainfall. I know that the fog can get fairly dense in that area because I have seen pictures of Torrey Pines Golf Course with dense morning fog.

          • Loyal Brooks

            It crossed my mind to mention the Torrey pine. Besides coulter, Torrey is the only other CA pine that varies in stands between closed-cone and open cone (and it is also the rarest pine in the world). There are about 9 or 10,000 trees, all of which are concentrated in 2 places: a 5-mile stretch of sea bluffs along the N. edge of San Diego and adjacent Del Mar, and 175 miles away on the NE side of Santa Rosa Island, about 25 miles from Santa Barbara.

            The Torrey pine is divided into 2 subspecies, with torreyana on the mainland and insularis on the island.

            I do not see it written anywhere, but of course they are assisted by the marine layer. All pines in the wild are within earshot of the surf, so they must make the most out of the fog. I also wonder if they are suffering like the coulter pine is in this drought. Torreys seem to be safer hiding in the fog.

          • David Gray

            Really interesting about the variety of trees and the distinction about closed cone/open cone strategies.
            Just want to put in a plug for my personal favorite, Pinus Sabiniana, which has many common names, of which I favor Grey Pine. I am an upstater in Yolo County.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Yolo County – great place – UC Davis undergrad years. You can find wild individuals on the valley floor in a few places along Cache Creek – highly unusual. There are so many of them in the NW corner of the county.

            Gray and Jeffrey pine are the two incredibly unique pines in that the resin from the trunks contain heptane and not the usual terpenes. This strange chemistry labels them both “gasoline trees.”

            They are probably least affected by this drought. They are found in an areas of Tehachapi and Piute mountains that are on the verge of being in the Mojave. There gray pine merge into stands of pinyon and CA juniper.

          • David Gray

            In Woodland there is a giant specimen in a neglected arboretum at Ferns Park. Also, the local tree foundation planted a couple along Hwy. 113 which are growing nicely so far, about fifteen feet tall. I will look for the specimens you mentioned along the creek. I am hoping to plant some more on the flatlands.
            Interesting about the heptane.

          • Loyal Brooks

            I have gone back to the original Southern Pacific Railroad building accounts here, but they note that these pines were in Colusa Co along a particular but unnamed stream between Arbuckle and Dunnigan. I-5 parallels the railroad in that area very closely. Looking at Google Earth, all streams entering the valley have been channelized so much, it is difficult to tell which stream is which.

            In 2007, when I was last out there driving from Sac to Medford, I saw them (mainly b/c I knew they are there), and they are on the west side of the freeway in a deep gulch where most of the water has been diverted. I think these are the ones the railroad co. mentions.

            This, of course, does not count the ones in the valley in Tehama Co. northward, where they become more widespread across the valley from side to side.

          • David Gray

            Thanks, I’ll keep my eyes peeled next time I am up that way. Another passion is the Paradox walnut, created by Luther Burbank.

          • craig matthews

            They discovered a stand of santa lucia fir at a low elevation of 500ft about a mile inland on san carpojo creek east of hearst castle. The next watershed north is salmon creek, which was considered for a time to be the last watershed that contained coast redwoods as you go south down the coast. However they have discovered redwoods further south. Trying not to get too far off the subject here. But in regards to our current drought/dry spell. It is the tree groups on mid slopes of the coast range that seam to be most affected by this prolonged dryness. These are redwoods, coast live oak, tan oak, ponderosa, coulter, sugar pines as well as douglas fir{a coastal variety}. I’ve seen some old black n white photos of the coast range taken in late 1800’s and early 1900’s that show how different the coast range use to look before we came and messed things up. But I will stop at that. Don’t want to get to far off the subject as I can go on and on about how we’ve messed things up.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Thanks for the info about the trees. I am interested, and as I see it, the tapestry of vegetation on the land is the mark of the climate (and geology). How it is faring now in this drought is pertinent – it is a direct result of the anomalous ridge.

            I found additional research on Coulter pines: “Fire control exerted by forestry authorities has worked against the long-term regeneration prospects of Coulter pine further than other CA pines.” These authors believe that fire suppression has hit Coulters particularly hard. The seem to need a regular burn more than was originally thought.

            I can’t help but think about the ones you wrote about that are dying and being eaten alive by bark beetles. Some of the problem may stem from the fact they are TOO OLD to put up much of a resistance. But hey, their seeds are still viable for quite some time!

      • Dogwood

        I hope they’re not going to die off. East of San Jose there is a ridge to the north of Mt Hamilton, called Mount Day that is crested with Coulters. I consider them a great tree, figure they’re the next best thing to Ponderosas. I have always assumed that they were supremely drought tolerant.

  • Shaggy

    The drought is started to kill us over in Arizona as well. Take a look at the % of normal monthly precip map again and note where the largest coterminous expanse of dark red = zero rain has occurred. Southern Arizona is not all desert, far from it. The extremely low snowfall this winter in mountainous areas feels a lot like what occurred back in 2011 when the Wallow Fire burned several hundred thousand acres of timber in the eastern part of the state. I realize that California is in rougher shape than AZ for many reasons, but we’re hurting too. And yes, we’re part of the Weather picture out West. Cheers and thanks for the informative blog!

    • craig matthews

      At least you have the monsoon to look forward to if we don’t get out of this monotones dry pattern.

      • Shaggy

        Fair enough. And the dry lightning season that precedes it.

        • craig matthews

          Hopefully no dry lightning. Do you live in a favorable area for monsoon rains in the summer. I’ve heard that some places in AZ get quite a bit of rain in the summer/early fall, while others its hit n miss.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Dry lightning is a fact of life for many western species of chaparral, pine, oak and others.Those that evolved with the fact of dry lightning are now totally dependent on it.

            Some forests, as I am certain you know, cannot regenerate unless there is a fire. This is a genetic adaptation to repeated droughts and fires. Their strategy to survive depends on it.

            The problems with fires are where man builds permanent structures within such places. These structures are not built to “rebuild themselves” after a fire, unlike the vegetation!

          • craig matthews

            I agree. Another major problem is man taking fire out of the environment which has caused massive undergrowth to choke out the forest, and also causes a fire ladder up into the older trees, which is one of the reasons why wildfires lately have become so much more intense and destructive.

          • Shaggy

            Yes, dry lightning season is normal for these parts, and yes, middle-elevation trees and shrubs are adapted to fire and dependent upon it. What’s different in the extreme drought regime of the past decade is the overall dearth of winter precipitation and the increasingly long duration between the last rain/snow event and the onset of the summer storms. Throw in decades of forest mismanagement and the suppression of naturally occurring regular-interval low-burning fires, and the recipe is there for, firstly, a long and extreme fire season relative to prior norms, and then a rainy season that can do as much harm as good, due to the risk of heavy flooding atop recently-burned soils. Case in point: google Mogollon ghost town (SW New Mexico) flooding September 2013. The pictures tell the sad story.

  • Steve

    Despite the lack of any drought busters in the foreseeable future, things are trending in the right direction. A wet February is better than a dry one.

    With that said, its hard to ignore the fact that the west has been drying out for a long time now. There are dry lakes all over the place that used to be full of fresh water. I can’t help thinking that we’ve accelerated the process with CO2 and arctic ice melt.

    • If the forecast for the next 1-2 weeks holds, we will not have experienced a “wet” February. Amazingly enough, even with the recent AR, there’s a good chance we’ll log yet another below-average month.

      • David Gray

        That was more of an atmospheric rivulet for most places.

      • Steve

        “Wetter” than last February, perhaps?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      The dryness in Socal this winter looks a lot like the year 2100 shown on the precipitation drought graph you posted.

      • Kamau40

        The graph above seems to be pretty accurate in terms of the direction of our climate. In a previous post, I’ve mentioned that we could very well be in a dying trend for decades to come. There maybe some years we could be wet, like right before the year 2020 and somewhat around 2025, but overall after that it looks like the start of the long term dry trend we fear. It definitely seem that we are seeing increasing dry winters for the state; therefore, we must start getting into the habit that conservation needs to be the way of life concerning our water supply. The state better start thinking about building more dams to collect rain/snow while we still can.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Don’t forget that we are in -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral, the driest regime for Socal, and we could turn wetter once again once everything changes. This graph is a model forecast done by the IPCC, and it could verify in the long run, or it may not verify. We will just have to wait it out for a number of years to determine the trend. Meanwhile, the state definitely needs to build more dams and reservoirs to collect rainwater to help boost our supply, and I think we need to build some desalination plants as well to help out in critically dry periods such as the one we are in right now.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Agreed. There needs to be a multi-pronged effort to get the water the CA does have better secured. All that you mentioned from additional storage to desalination need to be in the mix.

            Groundwater is a very, very important issue that largely goes unnoticed because it is unseen. So much depends on groundwater supplies – now 40% of the state is dependent on it. And few even speak of it.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Regardless of which way our climate is headed, there are always going to be droughts of various lengths due of the nature of our Mediterranean climate, so it is always a good idea to have a good water supply infrastructure that is capable of serving adequate water to everyone during very dry periods such as now.

          • Kamau40

            Correctly said!!

          • murphstahoe

            How does that help a redwood forest?

          • Travis Mason-Bushman

            Additional storage of what water? More dams where?

            We need to think about conservation, which means dramatically reducing the amount of water consumed by agriculture.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Rainwater from wet years to help us get through dry years. It seems that some people here think it is never going to rain again in California, which is kind of hard for me to believe at this point despite these terrible drought conditions we are experiencing, even though it feels that way this winter.

          • Travis Mason-Bushman

            We cannot “serve adequate water to everyone during very dry periods.” That’s simply not possible.

        • Kamau40

          Although, it does look like sometime between now and 2020, according to the climate graph above, we should experience a couple of good wet years here on the West Coast.

    • I wouldn’t read the ups and downs of this plot too literally. There’s a lot of variability in the climate system, and it simply wouldn’t be reasonable to make the claim that there will be a big drought in 2060 or a wet year in 2025, for example. But I think the big takeaway is that the average precipitation of the Western U.S. is likely to decree pretty considerably over the next century

      • Dan the Weatherman

        We don’t really know for certain at this point whether it will become drier and to what extent later on this century. It is certainly possible from looking at current trends, but it certainly isn’t etched in stone. It is also possible that something else could happen in the future, such as more frequent El Nino episodes that could lead to wetter conditions at some point for certain regions. Then again, we could continue to cycle in and out of wetter and drier conditions much like we have done over the past century. I am not saying that one scenario is more likely than the other, but I am just pointing out different possibilities, and just because we have been experiencing historical dryness right now doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to continue to be this dry or drier overall in the near and longer term.

        • Kamau40

          You’re assessment is actually more accurate. We really don’t know how wet or dry we will be in the future. Only God knows. However, I do see the avg wet years will probably decrease for us, but a lot will depend on the phases of the oceans which changes every 20-30yrs. I doubt that the climate models takes into consideration the ocean phases along with other factors such as ash from volcanic eruptions and sunspot min and max which also has great impacts on weather. In terms of volcanic ash, if you remember, we saw that with Mt. Pinatubo in the Phillipians back in 1991 which affected the weather patterns for a few years. Only time will tell. Perhaps, after this year, I do think we should be coming up with some wetter years in the shorter term though between now and 2020.

          • Most of the climate models used in the IPCC assessment are coupled to dynamic ocean models–so ocean-atmosphere dynamics are certainly incorporated.

  • lightning10

    I wanted to say that I have lived in Whittier for 25 years and I saw a bat for the first time a few days ago. It flew at my head in the middle of the day. Not sure if it has to do with the weather but interesting none the less.

  • craig matthews

    Another very informative, very good post. Hard to believe that the RRR may not be gone. One thing that is puzzling to me is why the lack of MJO activity for so long this winter? And another question is what does CPC mean by saying that convection along the equator is expected to move to a position which telleconects with a ridge along the west coast from week 2 and beyond? And what position of convection is favorable for a trough along the west coast? Because I always thought that more convection along the equator propagating east to the dateline favored a wetter pattern along the west coast, and the further east the convection propagates, the further south the wet pattern will sag along the west coast. In the late winter of 1991 there was a propagation of convection to the dateline and a little east, and then the pacific jet undercut the epac ridge and slammed California with miracle march rains. I’m confused here, someone more experienced help please.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I have been wondering the same thing about the MJO because it has been very weak and/or inactive for most of this season. I believe this may be one of the reasons ridging has been so persistent in the Eastern Pacific this year. I hope someone answers your question regarding the convection as well because it will help me understand it better.

      • craig matthews

        I’ve been checking on those weekly MJO discussions all winter long and they keep saying the same thing. Lack of coherent MJO signal. There has been more convection west of the dateline in recent weeks, but it has not propagated beyond the dateline as of yet. There is potentially a strong downwelling kelvin wave developing in the western pacific which can sometimes precede a developing el nino. But who knows.

        • Loyal Brooks

          According to the research above (available to read at the CPC website), sometimes there is a strong MJO during neutral conditions, even though that seems counterintuitive. More research, anyone?

          Some El Nino years pass and CA has a drought. Go figure…

          • Kamau40

            Loyal,
            You are correct in assessing the MJO and El Nino. You and I have the same thought process when it comes to those 2 major global tele-connection which greatly affects the weather here on the West Coast. Furthermore, in regards to El Nino, you’re right, I have seen it both ways. A strong El Nino increases the odds of having a wet winter, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee it. It all depends on the strength, location or the type, along with other global weather factors. We hope and pray that next will be an epic year with the upcoming development of El Nino. It is still along ways off and lots of things can happen between now and then with the global weather patterns. That is why we have to be careful about being overly excited and be cautiously optimistic.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Most very strong El Ninos have been wet, but not all moderate ones have been wet, though, as Craig Matthews mentioned that 1986-87 was dry despite the strength of the event.

          • Loyal Brooks

            I enjoy the light being shone on this fact that variables exist inside other variables, and a (+XYZ) and a (- ABC) phase of something doesn’t mean a whole lot as far as the weather is concerned. The weather will do what it is going to do. A few of them are so kind to give us a “more likely” situation, but NOTHING is set in stone.

            As far as these indices go, and all of the acronyms being written by us might be bothering others here who just want to read about the drought and it’s effects. Someone above has left their opinion of these acronyms. I just found this blog in mid Dec. and I don’t know what this place was like before – maybe we are taking off in our own direction too much???

            In Daniel’s article above, he does not write about any of this, but instead more straight up of what the famous ridge has now done to the state and region.

      • Loyal Brooks

        It is possible that a general misunderstanding of how these teleconnections – of all types – including phenomena such as MJO and ENSO influence the weather. There is no such thing as “well here it is so XYZ will happen” with the weather. They are all more like “tendencies” or “better chances that.” All of these things, plus the ones yet to be discovered, need to be better understood. I think Mr. Daniel Swain might want to address this in a future post

        About the MJO specifically, according to research, there is strong year-to-year variability in MJO activity, with periods of strong activity followed by long periods in which the oscillation is weak or absent (Hendon et al. 1999; Zhang, 2005).

        More than that, there is evidence that the interannual variability of the MJO is partly linked to the ENSO cycle. This means that there is MJO variability (strong or weak) within an El Nino, for example. Strong MJO activity is often observed during weak La Niña years or during ENSO-neutral years, while weak or absent MJO activity is typically associated with strong El Niño episode

        • Dan the Weatherman

          This year is featuring weak or absent MJO activity in an ENSO neutral episode at least to this point so far.

          • Loyal Brooks

            And no one on earth can explain why with any precision. All of these phases/oscillations/teleconnections work in tandem in ways we really do not understand.

            The physics of how the fluid ocean and fluid air respond to differential heating on a rotating sphere is well understood. That dark cloud that surrounds us is “How do all of these phases work together?” And, more importantly, “What don’t we know yet?”

          • craig matthews

            I think you hit the nail on the head there when you say “tendencies” and “better chances”, and here it is so XYZ will happen. I find that the more research I am doing, the more questions I have. And I’m finding contradictions as well. We have theories at best as to the causes. I haven’t heard anyone tell us the cause of el nino, for example. It just happens. Just like this drought, its just happening and we are all wondering why. And we may never really know. I think a strong el nino will give us a better “chance” at a wet winter in California. But look at what happened in 1986-87 when nino 3.4 was at +1.6C and the PDO was positive and yet central California had drought those years. The weather just does not always play by our rules.

          • Loyal Brooks

            You are a scientist….you are showing symptoms! Good for you! Frankly, most sciences are at this stage. It just is, and here is a theory to help explain it….until new information comes in. And it starts all over.

          • craig matthews

            Just an observer actually. I never heard of the PDO/AMO until I found this blog. I just like to watch big storms come in off the pacific. That’s where I get my peace.

          • Loyal Brooks

            When I lived out there, in both N and C CA, I felt the same….but they only roll in during the fleeting winter months. Here our snows are spread out longer than the rainy season is there. Since the AR had so little dynamics with it, it hasn’t changed our weather here too much. Snowing now – 3pm and 18F. But, it will next week – along with heavier snows.

  • Utrex

    +AMO, -PDO, neutral ENSO, weak MJO, westerlies, all of this pretty sums it all up. Dry weather.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I think you may mean easterlies here, instead of westerlies.

  • rainscout

    That IPPC model graph for the possible future till 2100 is an absolute nightmare!!! If we are really headed down the dry road to hell..I can’t really understand more dams and reservoirs. I mean every river in Calif has been damed..most multiple times..Save only the Smith river. With all due respect.. what will fill all these reservoirs..certainly not years like this??!! I can’t imagine living in this state where every drop of water is allocated for mostly human use..We will be back to the idea that any water that flows back to the Pacific is wasted.. thereby killing off all that is left of our salmon and steelhead runs..I look at this as one big science fiction project that has gone horribly wrong!!!

  • redlands

    Was 88 in Redlands, Ca on Feb 13 and 14 – 2014 — Way too warm for February

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Way too warm for February, especially considering we should be getting rain this time of year. If this weather keeps up, we will be in the 90’s and 100’s in April. I hope not!

      • Kamau40

        I think based on looking at the latest long range outlook going into Mar looks dry and warmer than normal. I guess the Miracle Mar prospects are out of the cards. Dry season will start up early.

  • redlands

    Was looking at my weather records — to be precise my rain records — back to August of 1981. This rain season wont go down as the driest — that belongs to the 2001-2002 rain season with 2.78 — this season 2013-2014 is currently at 2.86. — 2001-2002 rain season – July thru Feb had 1.65 of rain — this season 2013-2014 – July thru Feb is currently 2.86. Its hard to believe that the 2001-2002 rain season July thru Feb is drier than the current season. I hope am wrong but looks like Redlands, Ca will get tops bout an inch more of rain before the season ends in June-30th.

    • Loyal Brooks

      Interesting that your all of your record dry years occurred since 2000. Mixed in that were the very wet years of 2005-2006 and 2010-2011. What amounts did you get in those years? And….what is your average yearly rainfall since 2000? It is very handy to have personal records.

      • redlands

        Loyal Brooks — Redlands, Ca Rain Stats —
        2001-2002 2.78
        2004-2005 24.21
        2005-2006 10.18
        2006-2007 4.30
        2010-2011 19.29 — Please note the month of Dec-2010
        Redlands, Ca received 10.46 of rain.
        If we didn’t receive that large amount
        of rain in Dec — the season would of
        ended up with only 8.83 instead of
        19.29
        ——————————————————————————–
        1981- 1982 thru 2013-2014 rain season — average of 12.18
        ——————————————————————————-
        AVERAGE RAINFALL
        ————————————
        1982-83 thru 1989-90 12.60
        1990-91 thru 1999-00 13.62
        2000-01 thru 2009-10 11.13
        2010-11 thru 2013-14 9.49
        One can see that the 1990’s had a higher average rainfall — 2000 and on — is down hill
        ————————————————————————-

  • snow755

    I have noted that the gfs gets vary warm we could be looking at a early season heat wave by late feb and has we head in two mar we may be skipping spring And heading right in two summer. The gfs has. Mid two 80 in the valley with 90s in the S valley heck even are valleys could. Be looking. At a few lower 90s if the 06z is right

  • snow755

    All so like too point out if the 06z is right we will all so have high fire danger

  • Loyal Brooks

    Why was there so much runoff in the N Bay Area in the midst of such an extreme drought during the recent Atmospheric River event over N Central CA? Check out this link here: http://blogs.kqed.org/science/2014/02/14/why-the-next-rainstorm-might-make-a-bigger-dent-in-the-drought/

    • craig matthews

      Here in big sur, the storm we had last week dropped 2.5 inches in 24 hours and the river rose a foot. The only thing I can think of is that sometimes when the soil is dry for so long, a tiny film of oily substance builds up on the surface. And a sudden heavy rain just runs off and doesn’t soak in to the earth. I don’t know if that is what happened in the north bay, but that’s what happened where I live. It also depends on what type leaf litter is involved, as here in big sur there is a lot of chamise brush on the hills above the valley which produce an oily substance on top of the ground. Many factors involved here. Good question though and im sure someone up north of me might know better then me.

      • Loyal Brooks

        Soils – anywhere – become hydrophobic after a long dry spell. This is an issue all of the time in the deserts, but in this extended play dry period, it is worse than usual in CA. Additional rains now over wet soils will soak in with greater ease.

        • craig matthews

          Rain rates of one half to one inch per hour over an extended period, over a landscape that has been dry for several months may be the reason for the runoff. And the lack of grass to hold the water on the slopes can be a problem as well. There are areas even in the north bay hills where the cattle have grazed the landscape down to bare dirt. Even worse is the southern Salinas valley where it looks like mars. Bare dirt with not a blade of grass to hold in the soil. Would be nice if we get a storm with a long duration of light to moderate rain and no wind. That would allow a nice slow soaking period to allow new grass to sprout before the heavier rains come.

    • alanstorm

      You want runoff? Smith river in Del Notre co. hit warning stage yesterday! That’s 70,000 cubic feet over second. Alot of thirsty tree finally got watered.

      • Loyal Brooks

        I almost wrote about the Smith R. – I used to live very nearby, and a friend sent me pics of it very high, after being down to almost a trickle a week ago. Another example of the hydroscopic soils that developed over such a dry spell.

        To widen out, OR had many rivers at or near flood stage in the last 3 days, yet the drought is officially severe there – so this ridge covers a lot of real estate!

        • Tom Maxwell

          Wonder why water is running to sea, after so many months of drought? Why can’t California add new water storage? Doesn’t have to be new dams? Added snowpack is the answer. Weather moderation-oh my god say the alarmists-can’t mess with my weather-my land will dry up and blow away before I’ll allow that! Get real; extremists are controlling scientists and legislators in any attempt to find solutions to long term drought potential. Not one dime of money for science investigation for weather moderation. Everybody wants something done, but is afraid to think about or say something about moderation because the alarmists immediately declare you an agent of evil intent. So why don’t we start talking about storing excess rainfall?

          • alanstorm

            Well one reason there aren’t so many reservoirs for water storage on rivers like the Smith is how would one transport said rainwater storage to users? A good portion of this state where rivers run to the sea is surrounded by hundreds of miles of jagged mountains. How would it be delived? By ocean barge? (Actual proposal) Even the massive, free flowing Eel (sometimes hitting 400,000cfs) has water diverted from way upstream Lake Phillsbury to Russian river. I do agree, the need for new water storage is painfully obvious. Without it, we won’t survive these nightmarish RRR droughts.

          • Loyal Brooks

            We have dammed enough rivers and ruined enough fisheries and whitewater. But, during the flood years, some of THAT water can be parked offstream. By that, I mean enlarging a dam that already exists (such as the Los Vaqueros Dam in Contra Costa Co., completed in 2011) Other places like this exist.

            If we really care about the long-term security of CA’s water, we must consider groundwater and put that on the front burner. We see all of these dams and diversions and canals, yet almost nobody talks about the alarming groundwater withdrawals

            Fully 40% of water use in CA is directly from being pumped up from the groundwater – most of it in the SJV. There is little opportunity for natural recharge to keep up with the rate of withdrawal.The ground surface subsides, and many areas in the SJV have sunken. Here’s a picture to show you what I mean. The site is in the San Joaquin Valley southwest of Mendota, California.

          • alanstorm

            That’s for sure! I think the Eel is one of the last wild rivers left in Ca. & even it is deverted. Probably storage reservoirs will start popping up in the SJV. Seems like, being its one of the most geologically active zones on earth, storage dams could be quite a risk, esp in those east facing slopes around Collinga – Kettlman City.

          • Loyal Brooks

            I believe there should be more storage somewhere in the SJV. Not to get into geology too much, I want to address the San Andreas fault being so close to the SJV. This is a common cause for concern for many.

            Many sections of the S.A. and related faults have varying degrees of being locked – as in both sides of the fault are gradually moving in opposite directions, but locked sections don’t adjust until they “break” with a tremendous earthquake. Other areas along the fault have experienced slow, creeping quakes that take hours. Still other places have almost compete ground creep – meaning the energy of tectonics is constantly being released.

            This is a relatively new understanding, so be sure to check the dates on what you find. There is a significant part of the fault that is in continuous creep, (where serious earthquakes are not likely) from N of Parkfield (about 20 mi. SW of Coalinga) to about 160 miles NW along the fault. Here’s a link for those interested: http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/creep_events

          • maestra545

            For weather moderation (cloud-seeding), don’t you first need clouds? Except for the very recent past, this winter has seen mostly sunny days up and down California.

          • The only method of weather modification that has any effect at all is cloud seeding, and even then the effect is pretty marginal and hard to demonstrate. Plus, as has been noted, if it’s warm and dry (as it has been most of this winter) there’s just no way to make it snow.

  • lightning10

    Disgustingly warm night time temps. Even warmer day time temps. Fall can’t come soon enough.

  • craig matthews

    The current IR sat images look very deceiving as these highly reflective cooler cloud tops are nothing more then high level moisture with some virga over the central coast of ca. But it looks like some rain will get down to Monterey county tonight. Feel very bad for those south of me who are baking in the sun. Hard to believe we may be in for a heat wave, which is the last thing we need. My friend in Tuzon says a high of 89 predicted for today. I wouldn’t call this an early spring being we never had winter. More like a never ending early fall pattern that seams to want to switch right over to summer and leave us dry. I am still trying to be optimistic here but its getting hard. We need another april 1967 where it rained 19 inches in big sur and 7.5 inches in Monterey. No two winters are alike obviously but the possibility still remains that some good soaking storms can hit the state.

    • Xerophobe

      Thanks for the encouragement I have purposely stayed away from IR satellite images today. It would be nice to get that rain in April ’67 for March AND April this year. Seems remainder of Feb. will be lost.

  • lightning10

    Fullerton, CA has to be the big loser this winter. They have only had 0.12 since the first day of winter.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      My area is the second biggest loser this winter so far with a whopping .17″ so far since December 21.

      • lightning10

        I think for the first time ever I just don’t care if we get any more rain for So Cal this season. The season has for the most part (barring a miracle) has been lost and would just be a slap in the face.

        • Severe Wx

          I never knew there could be a winter that can get worse than 2006-2007. Guess I was wrong.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I never thought it would happen, either. What’s even worse is that Los Angeles is on track to record two consecutive years of less than 7″ for a season, which never happened once in the 20th century.

          • lightning10

            I think the difference is that in 2006/2007 and 2001/2002 I never felt that the next years would be as bad. I felt good as if the next years would be slightly better. This season however most people felt it would be a rather poor season before it started.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I knew that this was going to be a drier than average season due to the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral regime, but I thought that it would be wetter than last year and has not been the case up to this day. Whether we continue this record dryness or we get some much needed rain in March or April remains to be seen.

          • Kamau40

            You hit the nail in the coffin. You did accurately predict way back in July and Aug of 2013 that we would have a dry fall/winter based upon the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral regime. However, who would of thought that the dry spell would reach this magnitude? I had thought too that it would of been wetter than last year, but if the long range climate models verify, we will end the season much, much drier than the previous 3 yrs.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I wouldn’t have ever thought that it would have been this dry, figuring that Los Angeles may receive about 8-9″ for this season. I was judging this by looking at 1958-59 and then 1959-60, in which L.A. received about 5.5″ in 1958-59, and then a little over 8″ in 1959-60 in a very similar regime we are in now. The extreme dryness in Norcal has been even more shocking to me as I thought they would have a much better year than down here in Socal.

          • alanstorm

            Did the -PDO +AMO, neutral regime cause the jetstream to stick in that weak, north-south orientation, sending all the storms into Alaska and dropping Arctic air into the Midwest, or was it the perfect storm of both happening at once?

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I don’t think it was the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral combo itself that caused the jet to go all the way up into Alaska, because the northern parts of CA on northward are usually wetter in this type of regime, but it has played a role in the dryness of Socal in recent years. I do believe this stronger than normal subtropical ridge that has been keeping the southern half of CA dry and warm this week is a normal feature of the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral pattern. I think something else is in going on that is causing this extreme amplification around the RRR, but I still don’t really know what it is as of yet. I think we all would like to know, though!

    • Kamau40

      I used to live out there when I was a kid. Amazing how dry it has been out there. Those numbers above is indeed far worse than the severe drought of 1976-77 when I vaguely remember the severe water crisis then.

  • redlands

    Wow – Redlands, Ca for the months of December,January and up to February-15-2004 has received 0.42 of rain — for that period December thru February that amount is the driest ive recorded — records back to August of 1981. Was a toasty 88.4 in Redlands, Ca today — Feb-15-2014

  • Dreamer

    I still think LA will not see another drop for the rest of this winter or spring but what if LA were to get a its next rain shower in JULY? How would its residents and the media react given that how rare summer rain is in Southern California?

  • lightning10

    Since the first day of Winter here in Whittier only 0.29 has fallen.
    Precip for the year was 4.14 inches 2013 calender year

  • Utrex

    Well, there is a trough coming in around the last week of February. Gfs, euro, and gem all agree a trough will form at the end of February all the way into early march.

    Of course it might not happen, but based on current analytical models, the ridge here may indeed shift to the great plains.When a ridge is set in the great plains, we get stronger storms into the west coast!

    • Dreamer

      “Stronger” meaning actually getting a few sprinkles as opposed to constant sunshine or stronger as in real rain?

      • Dan the Weatherman

        We are absolutely due for a pattern change that leads to more substantial storms throughout the entire state instead of it continuing dry ad nauseum. Socal has not had one significant rain event so far this season and my location here in Orange County has not seen any storm with .4″ or more of rain and my rain total since Christmas is a whopping .17″. Los Angeles has only received 1.2″ of rain since July 1, which is downright pathetic, and there hasn’t been much snow for the ski resorts down here, either.

        It would be abnormal if we don’t get any rain between now and April.

        • Kamau40

          We are absolutely due for a strong El Niño event. We havn’t had one since 1997(about 16yrs). Even though the -PDO is not likely to change this year, can we still have a strong event during the -PDO phase? My prayers is that the upcoming event does not collapse during the Fall season. The last 2 yrs in a row that has happened where an El Niño would try to form and then they do not materialize and we end up having ENSO. We of course will be watching this new El Nino development in the coming months and that we will have an epic year next year! The state needs a ton of water.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Yes, 1968-69 is a good example of a fairly strong El Nino during a -PDO episode, and it led to a very wet winter in Socal.

          • Kamau40

            Do you know if the AMO was in its positive or negative phase?

          • Dan the Weatherman

            It was during the negative phase of the AMO, but it actually flipped positive temporarily from February to July 1969 before going back to negative. I think the atmosphere response takes about a year, so it still likely had the memory of a -AMO in the winter despite the temporary flip.

    • alanstorm

      I like your optimism! (Saw that too) At this point, that’s all we have. I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet on this winter. Did anyone foresee the AR dumping 7″-10″ in Marin Sanoma last week? We could just as easily get another dose in March or even April. Maybe it will stall or sag down to So Cal. Why not? We had an anomalous high pressure ridge so why not an anomalous subtropical major rain event for spring? Obviously, this recent pattern has no rhyme or reason.

      • Dreamer

        I’m voting for a bone dry spring followed by a major rain event from a Eastern Pacific tropical system in July or August. It would have far more shock value.

  • Dreamer

    I’m wondering if LA or San Diego coastal areas are have EVER seen any significant rainfall during their summer months. I’m not just talking about a few sprinkles. I’m talking about at least half an inch in a day anytime between the May to September timeframe.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Yes, there have been a few significant events over the years, usually moisture associated with remnants of Eastern Pacific tropical systems. Actually one of these events occurred in both summers of 1976 and 1977. A tropical storm actually made landfall around Long Beach in late September of 1939, and brought widespread heavy rain and flooding.

      • Dreamer

        Would you like to see it happen this summer?

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Yes, I would, but it is very rare to receive a half inch west of the mountains in summer.

          • Dreamer

            What about some cloud to ground lightning and thunder so loud it shakes the house? I bet all the Angelenos would mistake it for an earthquake!

          • Um no .

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I have had thunder that has rattled the house and I didn’t mistake it for an earthquake because I was watching the lightning at the time.

          • redlands

            Dan – The Weatherman — Do u live in Orange ??? Some Interesting rain stats for June thru September

            ——————————————————————–
            June Average Rain – 0.10 — Wettest June 1.10
            July Average Rain – 0.09 — Wettest July 0.66
            August Average Rain – 0.17 — Wettest August 2.62
            Septem Average Rain – 0.19 —-Wettest Septem 1.17
            rain stats since August 1981
            ———————————————————————-
            Rain stats from Redlands, Ca — close to Riverside, San Bernardino, Loma Linda
            ———————————————————————
            Will this weather change mean more rain in the summer months ????

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Yes I do live in Orange, about 6 miles east of Disneyland.
            What weather change are you referring to here?

      • Kamau40

        Now that it appears our rainy season is shutting off much sooner than normal, we really havn’t had much of a season this year of course, just a thought, since there are early signs and hits of a “possible” strong El Niño event next year is it possible that we could have an early start to the rainy/snow season? Looking at a few of the long range climate models, we could have a pretty active moonsonal and tropical season in the Eastern Pacific ocean. Warm waters can usually support such activity. In years past that has indeed been the case based upon historical data and my experience living here both in So Ca and Nor Cal. Do you have any insights on that possibility for late Summer and early Fall 2014?

        • Dreamer

          Has LA or San Diego ever gotten a thunderstorm at the coast from these events? Did residents call 911 because they did not know what was causing those loud noises and flashes?

          • Thunderstorms are common in the San Diego inland valleys during the summer…

          • Dreamer

            But the average CA coastal resident who hasn’t lived anywhere else has never heard thunder or seen lightning; right?

          • Dan the Weatherman

            No, because we usually have winter storms at least once or twice a year that bring unstable conditions to the region favorable for generating thunderstorms. I had one thunderstorm in the middle of the night back in March 2011 in which there was a lightning flash outside my bedroom window here in Orange that was as bright as day and was immediately followed by a very loud crack of thunder. This storm damaged my satellite dish and knocked out the phone lines.
            We even get occasional thunderstorm activity during the summer, and the last good thunderstorm occurred back in July 2006, which the thunder set off the car alarm and nearly 1/3″ of rain fell with the storm.

        • Strong El Nino events do appear to increase the possibility of Eastern Pacific hurricane remnants making it to California. It remains to be seen if we actually experience a significant El Nino event next fall, though…

          • Dreamer

            Would it stop the fire season if LA got half an inch of rain in August?

          • Dan the Weatherman

            The fire danger would be lowered for a limited time in areas that received the rain even if it were widespread and would likely be dry again by the fall, unless the fall is very active as well. Most activity in the summer is widely scattered, so relief would be even more limited in that case.

          • Kamau40

            Yep, we just have to wait and see. Only time will tell if El Niño will be strong by next Fall.

      • alanstorm

        I was in Bullhead City (Havasu) as a kid when that one in ’77 happened. It was the day Elvis died. Big time flash flooding all over the Mojave. Our hotel got flooded. Colorado River was raging!

        • redlands

          Alan — I also remember the day Elvis died — was raining that day — tropicial moisture — got lots of rain in August 16, 1977

    • About 5-7 years ago
      The city of San Diego had an awesome patch of tropical moisture drift through the city with lightening and flash flooding during one summer. It lasted for hours. It was freaking amazing. Most of the time it just hangs over the mountains.

      • Dreamer

        How much rain fell and did the locals panic?

  • Pingback: The Sunday Best: Last week’s top posts and out-clicks on Maven’s Notebook » MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK | MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK()

  • Azmordean

    Went hiking yesterday in the Santa Cruz mountains. The ground along the whole hike was quite damp, even muddy in places – likely as a result of the rains last weekend and heavy fog drip in the mountains (heavy fog began to roll in during my hike). Trees and the like surprisingly did not seem unduly stressed. That much was positive.

    However the extremity of the drought was apparent upon reaching Castle Rock “falls” – which were barely a trickle – virtually no water – in the heart of the “wet” season. Scary.

    Here’s hoping for that Miracle March.

  • Dreamer

    miracle march won’t happen. LA will be lucky to even to ANY measurable from now through June. Focus on El Niño and the next season. Can you imagine LA getting 30-40 inches during the 2014-2015 season? It would become a normal climate and not dessert any more.

    • Loyal Brooks

      Meteorology and especially precipitation is exceptionally ephemeral and transient, and it is not at all prudent to make declarations months down the road, when systems to deliver rain can develop in only a few days.

      • Dreamer

        True. They predicted a monster hurricane season for the Atlantic last summer and it was one of the quietest. You can talk about El Nino next year but it could be even drier than this one with under an inch TOTAL in L.A for the ENTIRE rainfall year of 2014-2015.

  • lightning10

    What I am worried about is seeing the negative pdo wash out some of the strength of the El Nino.

    Here is a thunderstorm that fell over Whittier, CA in 2006. That summer we had several nights of lightning/rain/microburst.

    • Dreamer

      That’s just a heavy shower. I don’t hear thunder. You guys need to visit the Midwest or South in summer if you want to see a REAL thunderstorm.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        We don’t get the instability in the atmosphere here in coastal CA that forms the severe thunderstorms in the Plains, Midwest, or South. The cold air masses that infiltrate the eastern half of the country, due to the dense nature of cold air, are unable to make it over the mountain ranges from the east and northeast into coastal CA, and any polar air from the NW is modified by the relatively warmer waters of the Pacific. Even the cold air from the north can’t quite make it over the transverse ranges of Socal. We also don’t get Gulf-style humidity in this region because our water temperatures are colder.

      • Loyal Brooks

        Here in MN, we get the green-black sky that goes with our squalls after a hot and hazy afternoon. We get damaging winds all of the time. Broadleaved trees routinely get their leaves shredded by the intense hail, which frequently piles up in cleared drains and creates regular urban flash floods. Every home or business has a lightning rod for safety, and there are still home fires all of the time.

        The land and the trees (and the people!) expect and depend on that atmospheric behavior. What the above video showed was a thirsty land receiving a gift. I don’t know why, but that seems a greater “gift” to the land than these incredible t-storms do here.

        • Dreamer

          What would happen if a midwestern-style thunderstorm hit downtown LA?

          • Loyal Brooks

            Way too much of a “good thing.” It would not be an interesting event if it were a regular feature. I am not very familiar with living in LA, but I imagine people who have always lived there would be telling their grandchildren about it. Now, that would be a great thing!

          • Dreamer

            I would think most Angelenos would flat out panic. you’d see grown 6 foot men screaming and hiding under the table like little girls!

          • Zepp

            LA drainage isn’t designed for big thunderstorms. There would be serious flash-flooding problems.
            Along with dozens of heart attacks and churches filled to capacity…

          • Dreamer

            I believe the heart attack part but I thought everyone in LA and their brother was either a raving atheist or a “New Age” spiritualist.

          • Zepp

            LA has over a million people who would be considered part of “the religious right”. The place is known for its extreme and wacky religions–even the new age types aren’t immune. There’s one outfit that grew out of the fascist Silver Shirts movement of the 30s.

  • rainscout

    Feel compelled to throw this out…With the amazing degree of wild and dead weather [in our case]…around the northern hemisphere…ie..severe drought and record setting temps here ..many snow and freezing events in the eastern US..endless rain and flooding in the UK..Sochi Russia trying to keep snow on the ground with temps. endlessly in the 60’s…Alaska with record warmth in winter..Siberia with record warmth in winter…I am sure I could name much more ” never seen this before” weather…my question???..Is the northern hemisphere
    seeing the brunt of “climate change” due to the rapidly diminishing Arctic sea ice?? I know many will say there are too many factors to make any singular assessment..but I think the “elephant” in the room just might be the dreaded “Climate Change”/..depleted sea-ice connection…as far as we go here locally ..Well calif is a real coin toss when it comes to winter rain and weather but we have been playing.. “kick the can” for way too long now..Nov. came with nothing..”kick the can” to Dec…”kick the can” to Jan…to Feb…to March.. to April..to next years possible El Nino..all this on top of what I see as a trend over the last 15-25 years of very diminshed chances of good winter storms in Northern Calif…I mean the reality is 1/10″ of rain here in the Santa cruz mts…followed by what could eaisly pass for a summer day..8″ of rain for the entire rainy season..no cold air or dynamic weather at all…while I can’t totally give up “Miracle March”.. I am finding it harder and harded to “kick the can”…………..

    • Dreamer

      What is the worst case scenario? NO more rain EVER in LA?

    • Dreamer

      The worst case scenario is “NO MORE RAIN EVER IN LA”.
      Build a bunch of desalination plants to solve the water crisis.
      If you want to experience rain first hand, take a vacation.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I found this article recently about Asian air pollution by David L. Alles of Western Washington University that I want to share, because I found it to be very interesting and possibly relevant to what we have been experiencing lately. The article shows many satellite pictures of the very heavy pollution both in China and India, taken over the last 7-8 years or so.

      http://fire.biol.wwu.edu/trent/alles/AirPollution.pdf

      I want to point out two parts of the article in particular, the first on page 2 and the other on page 67.

      Page 2 discusses the idea that there has been significant climate change in China in recent years in which there has been an observed trend of more drought in northern China and summer floods in southern China, and it may be the result of “human-made absorbing aerosols, mainly black carbon soot, that alter the regional atmospheric circulation and contribute to regional climate change.” (quote directly from pg. 2)

      Page 67 discusses the possibility that soot, or black carbon, could be causing more rapid melting of Arctic sea ice in recent years, which is altering temperatures and cloud development, and changing weather patterns.

    • Loyal Brooks

      There’s a HUGE difference between the Arctic (an ocean) and the Antarctic (a continent). The Arctic not only is vulnerable to warm currents from the Atlantic, but the surrounding land masses are warming greatly as well, advecting warmer air in the summer into the region, in addition to large rivers from Asia pouring warmer water into it during the summer, further accelerating the meltoff.

      Contrast that with Antarctica. It is entirely in the grip of the ice age that left much of the rest of the world 20,000 years ago. Antarctica has brutal summers, with temps often 40-50 below zero in all of that sunshine. Much of that has to do with incredible albedo (reflection of the sun’s energy on white ice), but also warmer ocean waters unable to do come near the continent.

      Since there is a belt of ocean all the way around the world surrounding Antarctica, in the stormiest latitudes of 55-65 S, satellite pics clearly show a never ending series of storms that circle the continent year round. This prevents warm currents from coming near the shore and affecting Antarctica. It has a positive feedback of keeping cold. So… yes, the N hemisphere is facing the brunt.

    • Zepp

      Roughly two-thirds of the world’s land mass is above the equator, plus the arctic ice cap which, in some ways, behaves as a land mass itself. And the effects of global warming are exacerbated on land. (It’s also why there’s a seasonal variation in CO2 levels of about 2ppm; in the southern summer, more CO2 is absorbed into the oceans, which are 80% of the southern hemisphere’s surface.)

  • Dreamer

    Seriously, if you think this drought is permanent, build some desalination plants.

    If you love rain firsthand, move to an area that gets rain. If you like cold drizzly rain, move to Seattle. If you like dramatic thunderstorms and warm rain, move to Florida. If you can stand a four seasons climate, move to the Midwest or New England (less frigid winters and less risk of severe weather than the midwest you’d still get snow for Christmas and thunderstorms in summer). If you want less cold winters but still 2 or 3 snow events a winter, move to the mid Atlantic states. If you still want a dry climate with no snow and can tolerate hot summers, move to Arizona and you can at least experience the monsoons.

    California is no place for a weather enthusiast. Even in a non-drought year, you still get only light rain a few times a month in winter. The other 9 months are sunny unless you live at the coast and get fog in the morning. In a drought year, you get spit a few days in winter and that’s it.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      What part of CA is not a place for a weather enthusiast? The state has many different climates a relatively short distance apart and many microclimates as well. CA has more diverse terrain (hills, mountains, valleys, deserts, beaches, etc.) and more diverse natural landscapes than most areas of the nation due to this diverse topography and proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

      • Loyal Brooks

        I think he is talking about weather here. CA is known as a place to /avoid/ if you are a meteorologist. – I would know.

        CA is different – it is a land of incredible contrasts in CLIMATE, not weather. I think this very thing came up a week ago and it is quite one thing to love CA for it’s diversity and complexity of climates, and quite another to enjoy the variety of weather coming to you.

        In fact, that is a meteorological person’s “definition” of sorts – weather of all kinds comes to YOU, you don’t go to other places to experience different weather – that is quickly labeled as “a variety of climates.” California, to a meteorologist, “yawn”… to one who loves the variety of the land – and it’s uniqueness in the world, “excellent!”

        • Dreamer

          If you want an easy peasy job. it’s a great job to be a meteorologist in CA. Repeat: morning clouds and fog burning off by noon with a high in the low 70s for 350 days a year. On the other 15 days when you get some light rain showers, STORMWATCH. No worrying about warning people about blizzards, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, or all that jazz.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Meteorologists who work for the NWS receive a higher pay than the rest of the nation, not just due to higher living costs – they have to put out “enticement money” to get meteorologist out there. Does this tell anybody anything?

            However, they do not issue “Storm Watches” over weather events that do not meet national criteria. That is overstating things greatly. There is a standardized way of doing business a the NWS across the nation. CA has no special treatment when it comes to watches and warnings like that.

            And, while I am at it, it is NOT an easy job to be a meteorologist in CA – the lack of a dynamic atmosphere creates too much boredom – and for far too long at a stretch. I would not do it. But I love the land for it’s climates, variety, geology, and so much else it has going for it.

          • Dreamer

            try watching the local news when LA gets a tenth of an inch of rain. It’s the opening story….STORMWATCH LOS ANGELES…THE STREETS ARE WET…OH NO THERES A PUDDLE WATCH OUT. INTERVIEWS WITH CLUELESS TWITS TALKING ABOUT HOW THEY HATE THE RAIN.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Dreamer, I don’t know LA on this “local news” level, and I have no idea how they report (anything). You may be right about the drama over a little rain in town.

            However, surrounding LA and SD are very high mountains – high enough to provide for incredible orographic situations to occur that a lowlander would never see, touch nor feel. But if the NWS issues such a watch or warning it is based on the same criteria as the southern Appalachians are. Things happen in all mountains that people in low-lying areas know nothing about.

        • David Gray

          Thanks. Just learned about the seven climate areas of CA.
          http://woodland.ucsd.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CA_CDmap.gif
          And for the record, I was born in Cincinnati and lived there through the third grade, then came out west and have lived all over California with a couple years in Alaska, one in the interior and one along the Aleutians, and a year in Florence, Oregon, not Italy, sigh.
          I love upstate California and we get plenty of weather, thank you, and can change it and the views dramatically by driving a few hours.

      • Dreamer

        Yes, the mountains get much more weather action but the vast majority of the population in CA live in three areas; LA, San Diego, and the Bay Area.

      • Zepp

        For that matter, the county I live in (Siskiyou County, about 4,000 square miles) has as many climatological zones as does Canada, ranging from temperate rain forest to arctic to high desert to coniferous forest. Annual precip varies between over 100 inches to less than 10, and the temperature range for the entire county is between 115 and minus 30 in any given year.The NWS goes nuts trying to write coherent forecasts for us. And yes, we do get thunderstorms. Sometimes when it’s snowing.

        • alanstorm

          Siskiyou County! What an amazing place! Home of the mighty Klamath. Huge mountains, vast wilderness, neat old ghost towns, lakes & flatlands. Probably one of the most remote undiscovered places in Ca. I bet it snows like crazy in normal winters. How is this drought affecting you there?

          • Zepp

            We’ve had steady, drenching rain for two weeks, but it doesn’t look like we’ll even make our average for February, which is about 8.37″. We’re at about 6.5″ for the season, and we ought to be at about 37″, so even here the fire season prospects look grim. Snow stayed well above 7,000 feet throughout the period, so there’s very little in the way of snowpack. This is our ski park’s web cam from today. The mound of snow you see is from when they made snow at Christmas for the boarders to play on. They were open for that for a total of three days. The bigger mound of snow in the background is Mount Shasta, but it’s only about 4 feet deep at 12,000 feet, when it normally would be about fifty feet deep.

          • Zepp

            Sorry: it didn’t get on the first post.

          • alanstorm

            Man, that’s really a bummer. Here in interior Mendocino county, we are bracing for probably the absolute worst fire season ever. Let’s pray we don’t get any dry lightning like in 2008.

          • Zepp

            2008 was kind of exceptional, over on thousand fires started from lightning from a monsoonal surge that came up from the Baja. Hopefully some of our resident weather watchers will warn us if conditions become favourable for that this year. It’s every Californian’s worst nightmare.

    • redlands

      Dreamer — You have some good points — Calif is no place for a weather nutt

      • Dreamer

        California has the most stable weather in the ENTIRE WORLD. What other area (except for scorching hot deserts) go into STORMWATCH mode everytime they get more than a tenth of an inch of rain.

        • Ben

          CA has very stable weather overall but there are extreme weather events here. We get devastating rains and floods like the rest of the nation but It is VERY RARE. In December 2010, San Diego got 4″ of rain in 48 hours. That’s considered a major rainstorm anywhere in the country. You’re right, news teams are ridiculous and exaggerate everything here.

          • Zepp

            The Santa Barbara newspaper, the News-Press, is famous for its 72-point weather headlines whenever a half-inch of rain strikes the city. There was a parody of it a few years back, “The Santa Barbaran News Suppress” which had the screaming headline, “Light Mist Envelops City! Hundreds get moist!” The entire page was devoted to this event (“Puddles seen in mountains!”) except for one little squib in the lower left corner: “9.1 earthquake strikes San Francisco-Thousands killed”.

          • Dreamer

            Californians love to brag about how blase they are about quakes but you really don’t get as many shakers as you let on. I’ve only felt two very small earthquakes so far and both could easily pass for a truck going by or someone slamming the door. Californians (most) are just such weather wimps that they need something to brag about.

          • Zepp

            No, California generally doesn’t get quakes anything like what they get in Japan, Indonesia, Peru or even Alaska. Although I’ve been in two moderate quakes (5.0-6.0) and they do have a way of riveting your attention.
            When I first moved up here, I thought I could forget about earthquakes. And we’ve only had two very tiny ones in the 25 years I’ve been here. (One was last year, centred near Susanville). But I’ve since learned of this thing called the Cascadian Subduction Zone, which is capable of unleashing a 9.0 monster and effectively destroying the Pacific Northwest and BC. The good news is it only cuts loose every three hundred years or so. The bad news is we’re coming up on 300 years since the last big one…

          • Dreamer

            True. I’ve experience more earthquakes in my 3 months in Japan than in my almost 3 YEARS (not continuous) in California. The Japanese quakes were mostly small ones in the 3.5-4.5 range but I did feel a 5.1.

            I also experienced my largest quake in Northern Virginia, believe it or not, the East Coast quake of 2011 (5.8). I admit that was a little scary because we don’t expect quakes here. I know it was an earthquake because I’ve been through them before but many had no idea what was going on until after it happened. You idiot Californians mocked us on social media telling us that you get those type of quakes almost every week and just go on with your day like nothing happens and that a 5.8 wouldn’t even make you stop eating your meal and wouldn’t make the local news. Bragging Angelenos.

            The biggest quake I’ve felt in California was 4.6. A little shaking but nothing scary. God forbid, I don’t want to experience the “BIG ONE” and I Northridge 1994 sounded pretty scary but you don’t experience those big ones on a monthly basis as much as you like to brag.

        • Loyal Brooks

          What about the seasonal central Chile? How would you characterize Israel, also Mediterranean, complete with the green grass of winter that fades into the yellow grasses of late spring, summer and early fall? Malta, In the Mediterranean is the same way. What about southern Spain, much further north than the Bay Area?

          • Ben

            Interesting you mention Israel- I have visited there because I have family there. Extremely similar climate to CA. However, there are two (albeit minor) differences- Israel seems to get more thunderstorms in winter, and summers are hot and humid on the coast (humid but no rain). I think both reasons have to do with the Mediterranean being warm. The warm water prevents a summer marine layer from forming and fuels thunderstorms when cold air comes down from Europe and travels over the warm water.

            I hear if there’s any climate that’s an exact copy of California, it would be Chile, which also has a marine layer due to the cold ocean current.

          • Loyal Brooks

            About Israel – while it has the seasonal desert sunshine for 6+ months/year, it does have it’s winter wet season, and I think you are correct in what you think the reason for the differences.

            Having once lived there, I would say it is more like very S CA than anything else. The extreme deserts, with just bare soil, is so dry, not even a weed dares to grow. This extends further N in latitude there than it does in N America.

            The Med has no cold current like CA does, so the sea is substantially warmer – year round. This warmer water does provides moisture to bloom into the cold upper-level lows that pass overhead – and thus occasional T-storms The summer heat and humidity is oppressive, yet no clouds. The warm sea waters keep the the warm, moist moist air from rising to form convective showers b/c of the overall high pressure prevents air from rising enough to produce showers.

    • alanstorm

      What? You must mean Southern Ca. Have you ever spent a winter in the northwestern counties of Humboldt, Del Notre it Mendocino?? Some areas get 50-100″ of rain a year. Those big pacific storms barrel in with 50mph south winds, floods & mudslides galore from December to March. Live in a flood plain town on the Eel river and you become quite a weather enthusiast. The Eel & Klamath have wiped out entire towns more then once! Snow covers the interior highlands all winter. Thunderstorms? Several times a year. 2007 one came thru in June with do much hail, it looked like snow. Dry lightning in 2008 started 100+ fires in Mendo county alone. Of course this is during the course of a normal winter, not a screwed up appocolyptic one like we’re having now.

      • Dreamer

        A very small percentage of California’s population lives in Humboldt. I’m referring to the LA area. I grew up living all over the U.S and am stuck in LA because of my girlfriend’s doing her masters at UCLA. I miss actual weather, mostly thunderstorms. I have not seen a single one since I moved here. (I’ve lived here as a kid in 2001-2002 and didn’t see a single thunderstorm then either.). I know I can drive to the mountains for snow in a normal year but this year that options not even there. When my girlfriend finishes school, we intend to move to Texas where housing is cheaper and I get to experience weather again.

        • Ben

          Yes, thunderstorms are very rare in Southern CA. I grew up in San Diego for the first 20 years of my life and can recall maybe 6 or 7 actual lightning, thunder and super heavy rain storms. This is about one storm every three years. Most of them were in March/April. I can recall a couple of monsoon storms making it to the coast.

          • Dreamer

            Been here since May, 2012 and not seen one yet. Saw a few sprinkles last July and everyone was surprised to see “rain” in summer.

          • Scott Turner

            Thunderstorms are rare in Coastal Southern California. However, move inland over the mountains and deserts from July to September, and you’ve got the chance to see them everyday. Last September, Lake Hemet outside of Idyllwild was nearly dry. Then, a massive string of thunderstorms filled it back to 70% in a week. These same thunderstorms wiped out a part of Tahquitz Canyon. One part of the desert got about 2-3 inches in an hour. All during the driest year on record.
            Those who think the weather in Southern California is boring aren’t paying attention.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            The summer monsoon was quite active this past summer with mountain and desert thunderstorms. There was also a ton of midlevel moisture west of the mountains due to a persistent SE to ESE flow around the Four Corners High making this summer one of the cloudier summers that I can remember in quite some time. Even a bit of measurable rain fell here in Orange on a couple of occasions in July. It was quite active in parts of Arizona as well, and helped reduce drought conditions by a category or two in some areas, according to the Drought Monitor.

          • Scott Turner

            I got married on July 20 in San Diego. It rained while we were taking our vows. Not what I expected for a wedding day in July.

          • Loyal Brooks

            At the risk of saying something non-weather related, I do congratulate you. It’s a good thing you mentioned the rainfall while taking vows, or the creator/moderator of this blog would tell you that you have violated the topic at hand by mentioning something between the summer monsoon and the latest GFS run.

        • Loyal Brooks

          And enjoy the 4th year of drought for Texas as well, don’t forget that!

        • Loyal Brooks

          I know how you feel. For some people the outdoors – weather included – matters more than just in passing. It is obvious to everyone you miss your weather “fix.”

          You speak a lot about LA and SD as if they would die or think they were dying over a thunderstorm. I have never lived in that “jungle,” and that is how far N Californians see that.

          But now, I am totally removed from CA altogether. I miss the areas I hiked in and felt like I belonged with the land and trees. The feeling just isn’t the same here, and as I type this, the S winds are howling outside, and it is beginning to snow. Tomorrow morning we are in a Winter Storm Warning for heavier snow – and I think we will finally reach the low 20s!

          This is great, but I sure love the rainy season in N CA just as much.

      • Ben

        Very true. Can’t forget about the mountain snows either. In a normal season, the Sierras get dumped with 300+ inches/year. In comparison, New york City averages only 24″ I think. Southern CA can also have incredible rains and strong South winds when big storms come through, they’re just RARE. RARE BUT NOT UNHEARD OF. Examples of years with Plenty of storms that made international headlines due to mudslides in Los Angeles, etc: 2010/11, 2004/05, and 1997/98.

        • Loyal Brooks

          Ben, I agree with you wholeheartedly. But, as a meteorologist who worked with colleagues out East, no weather is “real” unless is comes down on a city. No amount of explaining, no pictures of deep snow in July could or would ever change that for them.

    • Loyal Brooks

      Desalination plants must be considered very, very carefully, as they guzzle oil, or worse chew on coal. And, the gas they need to get rid of is horrible. Energy-wise, it is not practical, so why would CA want to do that on a grand scale?

      Yes, in places, it is probably the smartest thing to do for a municipality. For large-scale farming, forget it!

    • Loyal Brooks

      Well, a snow enthusiast in the Sierra at the height of a mid-winter storm with incredible dynamics enjoys that. There are few places on earth that rival it.

  • rainscout

    Not really disagreeing with the idea that Calif. is ” no place for weather enthusiast” but one would have to agree a little to the fact that Northern Ca. can get some eventful winters..they are in short supply recently..and I have lived in the Seattle area and had no problem with the “cold drizzly rain” as described.. maybe I am in the wrong “latitude ” so to speak.but with all the “never seen this before” weather.. it would be a roll of the dice to pick any sure fire bet on “normal” weather..I have been in ..and worked in many climates including the Arctic and Antarctic..I love weather and weather extremes..Calif is a pipe dream..but I have seen 20in inches of rain in 24 hours here..so here I am.. not totally by choice but circumstance..family…and I somewhat basically disagree..Calif. was partly created by somewhat wild weather..I can accept the doldrums but if it is predominatley caused by man..that’s what really bothers me!!

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The AMO index has just been updated for December and January and are .059 and -.039 respectively. It has actually flipped negative for January, but it is way too early to tell if this is a flip to a long-term negative or just a temporary flip before going positive again.

    • Loyal Brooks

      The PNA, the index most closely related to the potential for rain in CA (and the west coast in general), is projected to continue climbing and expected to become positive within 10 days. Not good news for rain-lovers in CA. Great news for cold lovers in the Upper Midwest.

      Long term outlooks here show our brief date with wind and snow and 30s for a few hours in the daytime is coming to an end. A colder outlook is on the way, back into the freezer (not deep freeze) again for a while for us. The AMO is not considered much of a factor in these parlances. (The PNA is SO MUCH more important for most of the US, including here).

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I think the AMO affects your climate more in the summer when the positive phase can lead to droughts like those of the 1950’s, the Dust Bowl, and the recent flash drought in 2012, but just because it is positive doesn’t always mean there is going to be a drought, but it increases the odds.

        • Loyal Brooks

          Yes, the AMO is somewhat more significant in it’s signal here in the summer – but it is no weather forecast as it is still very sketchy here in the most favorable times for it to reveal itself. It is only natural to believe this it isn’t working alone, and there are very clearly yet unidentified partners involved in what way it affects us.

          The PNA is basically ridging over the west coast. Depending on strength, it has only one thing it can do here: bring with it cold air from Alaska and the Yukon. Not much of a way around that one. It is so obvious, that you don’t even have to look at the index – our long range fcst is for a return of cold from that direction. It is automatic to realize that only happens in a +PNA situation. I check it to see how long it may last.

          It gets very cold here for different reasons, namely if the Hudson Low wonders too far to the SW. That is not about the PNA directly at all.

        • Loyal Brooks

          Nevermind…

          • Dan the Weatherman

            No, I am referring to the AMO (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation), rather than NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation). The AMO is a long term oscillation not unlike the PDO in the Pacific, while the NAO is a short term oscillation which can change several times a season.

          • Loyal Brooks

            That Atlantic ocean! Sorry, I assumed it was the AMO and answered here thinking that, then I thought, “wait – I think were talking about the NAO (a bit later). I quickly realized that it was indeed the AMO, and began to ask you if that is what you meant. Then, “oh yeah!” and wrote “nevermind.” I did that b/c it is not possible to delete a comment here. It goes to “guest.” And it is always easy to figure out who the guest is!

            Now, it even happened to me for a few minutes…. these acronyms! To include everyone, in general, we ought to mention the meaning of an acronym here if it is not already understood or are bringing it up for the first time in quite some time – just for easy reference for all..

          • Xerophobe

            I don’t know how you log-in here but I think Disqus does allow for editing in your ‘dashboard. Love your posts and DtWMan’s and discussions.

          • Loyal Brooks

            Thanks for that info. Xerophobe. I just found this site (and signed up for Discus) only a few days before 2014. So, it hasn’t been long. I didn’t go there yet, but I will look at the dashboard and see how that all works. Much Appreciated!

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I agree with you on stating what acronyms stand for because it can become quite confusing to people who are new to the subject or who are not as familiar with certain aspects of weather and climate. All the indices being in one place would certainly be a good idea, except that it is hard to do in this particular format, unless there is a category for a link to this type of thing up on top of the page below the California Weather Blog logo / graphic. This is a situation in which a forum type format would be handier in which there are multiple threads each with different topics.

          • Loyal Brooks

            We need a place where the acronyms are defined, but more than just what the letters stand for. We need a brief explanation of what each means and how they affect global circulation in in general.

            This will open the door to all who wish to talk about (or just understand) what is going on with these discussions. It’s best to be as inclusive as possible. If Daniel wants to do this, those who wish to discuss climatological parameters can do so, and not leave anyone out.

            There are also other threads going on here that have more to do with the effects of the drought in general – how the water supply is affected (river/reservoir levels), where and what type of forest trees are found and how they are affected, and a few others.

            Believe it or not, some want to talk about weather – report measurements, etc. Some would like to know how the weather works – go figure that one out!

    • Kamau40

      Very interesting!! I’m hoping that the AMO will stay negative for the long term. Could the flip in the PDO be long term too? Do you have websites for the AMO and PDO so we can keep eye on them throughout the year? That would be something if the AMO stays negative along with having a strong El Nino later in the year and even if the PDO stays positive. Having a flip in all 2 or 3 long term phases(AMO, PDO, ENSO) would be significant. Although as you mentioned, it is way too early if the AMO would stay positive, it due for a change. It would also be a great back up in case the upcoming El Nino falls thru the cracks.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        It is too early to say whether the flip in both the PDO and AMO is long term or not. The PDO has been negative since mid-1998 except for mid 2002 to mid 2006 and back and forth from mid 2006 to late 2007. The AMO has been positive almost continuously since 1995, which has been 19 years, and has led to the more active Atlantic hurricane seasons in most years since. These oscillations can stay in the same phase for 20-40 years, but the length of each cycle can vary. I would think the AMO would be due to flip back negative sooner than the PDO would be to go positive at this point, simply because it has been positive for a longer time period. The -PDO may still have some years ahead, despite the flip to positive this month, and it is not unusual for these oscillations to temporarily flip from time to time only to go back to their current dominant phase.

        • Loyal Brooks

          About these teleconnections (tc’s): It is scientifically unsound to assume there aren’t ones that last for a few hundred years in a “positive” state before they turn “negative.” We haven’t met and named them all yet. They come in all sizes and frequencies.

          Perhaps the “megadroughts” that we are aware of back to around 1100 AD may have arisen when a now unknown phase of an unnamed tc that switched it’s sign, and is now in the opposite phase (and maybe phasing back in in the way is was during the megadroughts). There is no way to prove this wrong. Or, prove it correct, for that matter. But something did factually cause those multi-decade droughts (some lasting > 100 years each).

          What is positive about this news is that so many trees in the Sierra, such as western juniper, sequoia, foxtail and limber pine, are here, well and alive to tell their story of what it was like growing up. They all LIVED through those droughts. They will live through this just the same.

        • Kamau40

          I like you’re analysis on the PDO and AMO phases. It makes sense to me. I won’t get too excited yet. Like everything else, we’ll just have to watch wait. I just greatly missed our wet years.

  • redlands

    Loyal Brooks — Redlands, Ca Rain Stats —
    2001-2002 2.78
    2004-2005 24.21
    2005-2006 10.18
    2006-2007 4.30
    2010-2011 19.29 — Please note the month of Dec-2010
    Redlands, Ca received 10.46 of rain.
    If we didn’t receive that large amount
    of rain in Dec — the season would of
    ended up with only 8.83 instead of
    19.29
    ——————————————————————————–
    1981- 1982 thru 2013-2014 rain season — average of 12.18
    ——————————————————————————-
    AVERAGE RAINFALL
    ————————————
    1982-83 thru 1989-90 12.60
    1990-91 thru 1999-00 13.62
    2000-01 thru 2009-10 11.13
    2010-11 thru 2013-14 9.49
    One can see that the 1990’s had a higher average rainfall — 2000 and on — is down hill
    ————————————————————————-

    Interesting fact — the 2004-2005 rain season — October 2004 – Redlands received 6.39 of rain –with the October Average rainfall being 0.59 of rain at my station — records back to August of 1981. I think overall that my area is currently in a period of drier rain seasons — there might be a few good years – but overall the seasons are getting drier. I hope that this will change back to a wetter period

    • Xerophobe

      I know you’re higher and up against the hills that lead to places like Hesperia and Victorville. You can get real decent orographic lift when things line up favorable. Is the Metro Water District planning any voluntary or mandatory water restrictions of their own? I’m guessing your area is part of it.

    • Dreamer

      Why such a wide variation? 2004-2005 got almost TEN TIMES as much rain is 2001-2002.

  • Sunchaser

    Jet stream shift could prompt harsher winters: so say scientists..
    http://news.yahoo.com/jet-stream-shift-could-prompt-harsher-winters-scientists-132931128.html

  • David

    I lived in So.Cal the first 35 years of my life and I can remember some decent thunderstorms in Thousand Oaks although they were few and far in between so indeed you can get them usually following a cold front passage in march or april. Since then I have resided in Orlando and now North Carolina and by far central Florida is the thunderstorm capital of the U.S. there is nothing that compares to the summer afternoon collision of the east coast and west coast sea breeze in the Florida peninsula you want t to talk about intense rain and lightning I’ve recorded nearly 4″ of rain in 45 minutes before. If your looking for thunderstorm action that’s the place to be if you can handle the humidity and upper 70s dewpoints. Now I’m stuck in N.C. with only 2-3″ of rain per hour in a good ole fashion summer thunderstorm. Yawn!

  • Utrex

    Hmm, soi values are dropping… You know what that means… Developing el nino conditions, albeit small…

    • Loyal Brooks

      SOI = Southern Oscillation Index – ENSO is the name given to El Nino – Southern Oscillation – the HUGH pattern that so many are hoping will wash the drought in CA away. If they are strong, as measured in a certain region, there is a greater likelihood that CA will not see another drought year. But nothing is guaranteed, even if it is strong.

    • Kamau40

      Yes. Usually, when the SOI values begin dropping that is one major indication that we are at the precursor of El Nino. Also, the westerlies are increasing and Kelvin Waves have been developing as well.

  • Dogwood

    Interesting article in NYT on the doorstep this morning- should be online as well. Just more California drought coverage. Climate change, etc.
    And I’m still trying to wrap my head around the IPCC 2100 graph posted earlier. My first and current inclination is to just call balderdash. To me, that’s just like someone saying the Seahawks are going to win the next 86 superbowls. I’ll endeavor to read more about the study, as I realize it’s not biased by our current 14 month condition. But still….
    Dews have been very noticeable in San Jose of late. Lots of nice evening and morning moisture in the air. Very different from January. More rain please.

    • I think it’s problematic when graphs such as these are reproduced without context. It’s not reasonable to expect real atmospheric conditions to follow the exact simulated ups and downs over the next 100 years presented in such a graph–there’s just too much internal variability in the climate system. Climate models are sensitive to initial conditions, which means that making a specific prediction such as “winter 2066-2067 will be very dry” based on climate model simulations is unreasonable. Note that this does not mean that climate models can’t accurately describe the climate for the end of the 21st century: we can still describe what the statistics weather will look like in the future.

      What are the implications of this? Well, if we ask a statistical (probabilistic) question instead–something like: are conditions at the end of the 21st century likely to be drier than those during the 20th century, or will droughts in the 21st century be more intense than those in the 20th century–we can reasonably state that the answer to that question is “yes” based on climate model projections.

      • Never Too Soon to Panic

        But given that we are in an interglacial era, shouldn’t we be fairly certain that the overall long term trend will be “warmer” and “drier?” i.e. More evaporation, less precipitation, and retreat of ice and glaciers.

  • craig matthews

    Did some research on past strong el nino events, such as 1972-73,1982-83, and 1997-98 and found that the PNA tended to be more positive during the strong el ninos, particularly in the 1997-98 event. Positive PNA tends to favor more ridging along the west coast, however it appears when the westerlies are stronger then average and displaced further south, that the west coast can get stormy weather in a positive PNA pattern. I am going to do more research on this to be sure I am reading this correctly. But reason why I mention this idea is to get feedback from you guys.

    • craig matthews

      Adding on to my comment above, I got this info from CPC’s info page on the PNA pattern. Its good reading for those that do not know what the PNA is and how it affects the weather pattern over north America. However it does not explain a positive PNA pattern during an enso neutral -PDO/+AMO phase and how that effects on weather pattern over north America.

      • Loyal Brooks

        Look at this…. you say you are “just and observer.” You love to hike in the Big Sur hills and examine the health (or sickness) of the vegetation around you. You are looking at groves of trees, and know their names and where, precisely, they are found. You are observing and thinking.

        Now you are observing the PNA pattern, and how/what that has to do with ENSO and other phases. In the back of your mind, you are examining HOW your favorite hills and groves of trees and chaparral come about through intense convection half way around the world over Borneo. You are thinking, about how that affects the westerlies and encourages moisture from a strong El Niño to be swept up into your favorite central CA storms.

        Forming rational connections between these two is what is called a scientific mind at work. Call it what you will, but I know ’em when I see ’em.

        • craig matthews

          Thanks for your thoughts. You always get me doing more research and that’s a good thing. I’ve learned its so important to keep an open mind about these things.

    • This is true–our enhanced precipitation during strong El Nino events comes primarily from southern-stream storms with large amounts of tropical/subtropical moisture. The subtropical jet has increased importance in such years, which can easily overcome/undercut ridging at slightly higher latitudes west of California. Being on the far west side of a large ridge (in the region of south-to-north flow) can be favorable for significant precipitation in CA.

      • craig matthews

        What you said above about being on the far west side of a large ridge can be favorable for significant precip in California. The latest 12z ECMWF kind of does that to California around day 9-10.

        • Problem is, the southern branch of the jet is weak to nonexistent this year and the ridge axis still isn’t setting up far enough to our east to be in the favorable region. If we do get rain around day 10, it’ll probably be from a northern stream system.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Is the southern branch of the jet so weak due to the -PDO, or is it a lack of MJO activity this winter, or both?

  • alanstorm

    Several articles brought to my attention today by my girlfriend, who is not very meteorologically aware, on “Melting Arctic Sea Ice Causing Wavier Jetstream”. BBC one blaming it for stuck weather patterns bringing warmth to Alaska, freeze to midwest, drought to Ca.etc. Guess its common news now that we are royally screwed.

    • This is a really interesting hypothesis with substantial theoretical basis. However, the observational evidence available so far remains pretty inconclusive, so it’s probably premature to attribute many of these specific weather events to sea ice loss. It would be reasonable to state that the kinds of persistent extremes being experienced this winter are consistent with the kind of atmospheric behavior that would be expected to increase if the sea ice/mid-latitude weather hypothesis is correct. Lots of active work on this right now…

      • saw1979

        One thing I really appreciate about this site is the unbiased way you put things. Lots of times when there’s extremes in weather, I hear people saying “well, this proves X”. I like coming here to learn, and also to know that an “agenda” isn’t being pushed. Thank you!

  • ApocalypseNow

    Could this be the beginning of the end?……The end of the world as we know it……..
    It all starts with a little climate change and spirals from there………………

    • Never Too Soon to Panic

      Change is the only constant. So technically speaking, every day is the end of the world as we know it.

      • kurt frohling

        Well said, sir.

        • Shaggy

          “And I feel fine.”

  • alanstorm

    So a weaker meandering jetstream in that silly Rossby wave pattern tends to get “stuck” on weather patterns at mid attitudes. So hows about it gets “stuck” in a nice juicy Pineapple Express zonal flowing AR straight into the west coast? Combine that stuck pattern with next winter’s El Nino and BINGO, drought over!
    (Come on. There’s hope. Anything is possible now)

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Here is some potentially good news from SFO’s NWS discussion this afternoon:

    BEYOND THE CURRENT EXTENDED FORECAST…THE MODELS DO NOT KEEP THE AFOREMENTIONED RIDGE LOCKED IN PLACE FOR LONG. THE RIDGE IS FORECAST TO SHIFT EASTWARD AHEAD OF A DEEP TROUGH EXPECTED TO IMPACT MUCH OF THE WEST COAST TOWARD THE END OF THE MONTH. WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR FOR THE POTENTIAL FOR PRECIPITATION LATE IN THE MONTH. FOR NOW…UNSEASONABLY WARM AND DRY AFTER WEDNESDAY`S WEAK FRONTAL PASSAGE.

    San Diego NWS mentioned that possibility in one of their discussions yesterday. If this change in the pattern manages to verify, then much of the state including Socal could receive some much-needed rainfall.

    • Kamau40

      That is certainly great news if everything verifies.

    • Dreamer

      Are we talking a few sprinkles or significant amounts? (No, Angelenos, a tenth of an inch does not warrant “STORMWATCH”….) For me, it has to be at least half an inch to really count.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I am not sure at this point since it is still out in fantasyland.

    • JibJab2

      Please! I want rain! I’m new to California, and while I love it here, I have found that I seriously miss the miracle of wet stuff falling from the sky.

    • craig matthews

      Having 3 ECMWF runs in a row showing a lower latitude pulse of westerlies forcing their way into the whole state of California has me a lot more optimistic that this ridge will be more progressive. This model has the best verification when it comes to longer range predictions. Even the GFS tonight is trending toward this wetter solution. Though it still has the best moisture offshore. But atleast its a change in the right direction.

  • Sunchaser

    I Came across this today “The terrible effect of one year of California’s drought seen from space”
    http://sploid.gizmodo.com/the-effect-of-one-year-of-californias-drought-from-spa-1524625966/+jesusdiaz

  • Pretty big disagreement amongst the extended models right now. ECMWF and GFS disagree on potential for precip in the day 9-12 range. It certainly looks dry between now and then, though. Unfortunately, none of the solutions currently progged appear to be very wet, and most of California (except, perhaps, a few spots near the core of the recent atmospheric river) will probably end up experiencing below-average precip for the month of February, once again.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Believe it or not, some desert cities such as Phoenix have actually had more rainfall this season so far than Los Angeles and portions of Orange County, which is very surprising! Here are some totals to date so far:

    Phoenix: 2.82″ Yuma: 1.11″ Tucson: 3.06″ Las Vegas: 1.42″
    Downtown Los Angeles: 1.20″ Long Beach: 1.61 Paso Robles: 1.41″
    Santa Barbara: 1.79″ Fullerton: 1.56″ John Wayne Airport: 1.25″

    Even more incredible is the fact that the desert stations’ totals are from October 1st onward so the rainfall totals from the majority of the monsoon season since July 1 aren’t even counted in these figures. Socal stations are totals from July 1 onward.

    • redlands

      Interesting stats !!!!

    • Shaggy

      Yep, water year starting Oct 1 looks better for AZ / Vegas in some ways, though I believe coastal So Cal has been doing slightly better since the start of the calendar year. Tucson International airport has recorded a whopping 0.01″ year to date. A little better in the eastern / central mountains with upslope, but not enough dynamics with that last series of fronts to ring out much of anything over the low country. March is basically our last shot at getting any appreciable moisture until July. Doesn’t SoCal sometimes see a wet April or even May? That’s almost unheard of out here, especially south of the Colorado Plateau.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Yeah, I figured that most of the precip that AZ cities and Vegas received occurred more in the fall, because the recent pattern hasn’t been conducive to rain in those areas.

  • Utrex

    This is the first long range deep instability I have seen a since the September supercell events and this one looks to be more intense… high cape values with high lifted index?!

    http://www.twisterdata.com/data/models/gfs/3/maps/2014/02/18/12/GFS_3_2014021812_F252_CAPE_SURFACE.png

    http://www.twisterdata.com/data/models/gfs/3/maps/2014/02/18/12/GFS_3_2014021812_F252_LFTX_SURFACE.png

    In between the 12 hours of these high instability rates, wind shear may form… developing a possible supercell/tornadic outbreak. Again, the gfs only models this 12 apart on the ensemble runs, plus this is over 200 hours out. However, that ridge may actually move east, and like I said before, CA tends to get hit hard when a ridge is locked in the great plain, and this is due to jetstream divergence and upper-level vorticity advection, which is produced by strong lows forming and sliding across CA.

    • Cliff Collipriest

      Can you tell us amateurs what this is showing?

      • Loyal Brooks

        Very simply here, CAPE = Convective Available Potential Energy. It is a measure of instability in the atmosphere. You want the atmosphere to be unstable above you in order to develop convective showers – usually in convective showers behind a front, or maybe with the arrival of a cold front itself.

        Let’s look at a simple, idealized situation. Bar everything else out, just look at this. When cold air is above warm air below, that warm air wants to rise. If it is free to keep rising, it will rise right into that cold layer of air lying above.

        Keeping this simple and open to all, the higher the CAPE, the more buoyant this “box” of air near the ground is – and it has a greater chance to interact with the dynamics going on with the colder air above. The higher the number, the more buoyant the “box” of air is and likely to rise up into the colder air above.

        • Cliff Collipriest

          Loyal, thank you for the great explanation!

    • I would not get too excited about 200-500J/Kg of CAPE in the day 12 forecast.

      • Utrex

        I know it’s 12 days out, but the AR event was as well. It’s just I’ve never seen long range values like this this winter season until now. Heck, spring’s here already… Might as well say it’s spring lol

    • Never Too Soon to Panic

      I don’t know what you mean… plz explain…

    • Utrex

      Cape values are the amount of energy in lift. More cape = more lift. The higher the cape values the stronger the lift. Higher cape values are usually associated with thunderstorms.

      Lifted index is the difference in temperature from the rising air/updrafts and the surrounding environment. With negative lifted index, the rising air is warmer than the air around it. So, areas under negative lifted index are unstable. Combining the cape and lifted index would create enough instability for thunderstorms.

      Vorticity advection is runs along the jet stream. If you look at jet streams, find the trough, or a dip in the jet. Find the base of the dip/trough, or the curved point. Since the jet runs from west to east, storms will form from the curved point to the other curved point, which is the base of the ridge. The ridge is a reversed trough, instead of the jet bending downward, it bends upward. Ridges are when the jet runs over an area of high pressure.

      Jetstream divergence is, basically speaking, the whole area in between the base of the trough and the base of the ridge.

      • Dreamer

        I miss thunderstorms so I hope this is true.

    • Dreamer

      Supercells in LA? Thought the only possible “supercell” in LA was a giant cell phone. Has LA EVER had any tornadoes before

  • craig matthews

    Once again, the models show the ne pacific ridge going way up into Alaska near the arctic circle in the next 10 days making room for westerlies, or the pacific jet, to undercut the ridge. But it all comes down to what will happen to this low amplitude ridge between socal and Hawaii that seams to pop up every time the pacific jet tries to undercut the ridge to the north. I wish we could move California out to 150w, or get the pattern to shift about 1000 miles east.

  • eric

    local weather reports 60% chance of rain next thursday in topanga canyon. I would be pretty pleased if that holds true

  • Utrex

    Even though not all el ninos favor a wet CA, it’s still worth looking into this:

    http://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/people/wwang/cfsv2fcst/imagesInd2/nino34Mon.gif

    Hurrah for my optimism

  • mycoholic

    Looks like pretty good model consistency for a significant series of storms beginning out around 2/27. 3 days straight have shown a shift back to wet weather for the last days of Feb or first days of March. Some runs have it limited to central CA and north, while others show substantial rainfall down into Santa Barbara and LA. CPC changed their 8-14 day to predict greater than average precip for NorCal and equal chance above and below normal for SoCal. Haven’t seen that since the atmospheric river was approaching. I like what I am seeing…

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Maybe we will have a “March Miracle” of sorts here in Socal and the rest of CA. We are overdue for a wet period down here and would be practically unheard of if we continued to be almost completely blanked the rest of the season in terms of rainfall. .17″ since December 20 is absolutely pathetic, even in a drier year, especially during the heart of the wet season.

    • I’ve given up hope. I’m getting antsy… I’m going to spend four days in the cascades in Oregon. Weather! Woot!

  • It does now appear that NorCal has a pretty good shot at a few days of rain around the very end of February. Rainfall intensity will be well below that observed during the recent atmospheric river, but overall coverage of soaking rainfall may be better and extend farther south (perhaps to Central California, at least). My concern is that the subtropical ridge may ultimately push this energy and moisture a few hundred miles further north than currently progged, but at the moment prospects for some rain are increasing after the coming very dry and warm week ahead.

    • Kamau40

      What are your thoughts about the prospects of a strong El Niño next winter? I’m hopeful because we are well over due for a strong El Nino. We havn’t had a strong one since 1997. My only concerns are as follows. 1. I think it is still too early to tell or get overly excited about it even though most climate models have been predicting one for the last couple of months. 2. Not all strong El Niños guarantee a wet winter for the state, it just increases the odds. Historically, a lot depends on the type and how they form along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. 3. Given the fact we have been in the -PDO phase, usually the negative phase of the ocean rarely supports strong El Niños, except for what happened in 1968-69 season. We will continue to monitor the weather pattern in the coming months, but I think we should be cautiously optimistic and pray that God will open up the heavens.

  • Ken K.

    Looks like some under cutting along with a intensifying MJO may extend the Jet are way Middle end of next week, with rainfall all the way to SO. CAL. What do you think Dan?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I haven’t seen you post here for a while and it is nice to see you back again!
      I am hoping this forecast verifies for next week because we desperately need the rain. As a matter of fact I don’t know if I have ever seen it this dry continuously from the fall into this late in the winter season. On top of the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral pattern, which can bring incredibly dry winters to Socal, the MJO has been very weak so far this winter, which I think has been partly to blame for keeping this same patterns locked in place this season. Now if the MJO actually begins to propagate eastward as is forecast, that should help to bring some more variability to our weather patterns, including more storms.

  • Utrex

    Interesting. I was reading an article from WSI which was released yesterday. They say there’s a possibility of a moderate-strong el nino this spring.

    http://www.wsi.com/blog/energy/models-may-have-low-predictability-in-the-spring-time-for-enso-forecasts-but-there-are-signs-to-support-a-possible-el-nino-event-this-spring/

    The eastern pacific ocean is cool at the moment due to an upwelling of a kelvin wave, and the warm waters in the western pacific are caused by the downwellings of a kelvin wave. It seems this kelvin wave is strong, and extremely rare… It might be possible to create an el nino similar to that of 1997…

    • That WSI discussion is pretty good, and I’d agree with most of it. I have higher confidence in the models suggesting the emergence of El Nino conditions later this year than I normally would this time of year. Subsurface anomalies suggest that the potential exists for a significant El Nino event, though it’s still too early to really make any assessment about the potential strength since (as mentioned in the WSI post) westerly wind anomalies need to strengthen first. I’ll be following this more in the coming months…I’ll probably start discussing in more detail after the next bout of potential wet weather towards the end of Feb.

    • Kamau40

      I agree with most of the WSI discussion as well. It makes sense and the assessment of the upcoming El Nino is great. I will be watching how everything unfolds in the coming months too.

  • lightning10

    I am not sold at all on this system. I will take 2 slices of the most dry model run.

  • craig matthews

    My confidence in the long range model forecast for a wet pattern for the entire state by the end of the month has now dropped big time im sorry to say. This is due to the fact that models show another polar vortex droping into the great lakes region in the coming days, which seams to put the weather pattern over north america in lock down mode, preventing the longwave trough from progressing eastward from the eastern pacific toward the west coast at the end of the month. Anytime we get one of these polar vortex over the great lakes, its very hard to get that large very cold pool of air to move out. And a very cold deep trough in the central united states doesn’t seam to telleconnect well with a deep trough on the west coast in my recent observations. I hope im wrong, but I wont be surprised at all to see the models revert back to keeping the longwave trough out over the eastern pacific with a shortwave ridge building over the desert sw into socal. If the polar vortex does not drop down into the great lakes, then id say we have a much better chance at having the longwave trough in the eastern pacific progressing into the west coast. I believe the driest and furthest north and west model solution right now, until I see that polar vortex move out.

    • Utrex

      It is valid to say, with the exception of one thing

      By looking at the 500mb on Friday, it looks like the four cornered states will be under a ridge, with CA under trough divergence, in other words, a wet pattern.

      The law of the jet is as follows: trough, ridge, trough, ridge etc.

      CA will be under a trough, the four corner states (CO, AZ, NM, UT) will be under a ridge, and the east will be under a trough. So, it would seem we will get rain. Some pretty potent lows may move in, even bringing some thunderstorms, with a chance of severe next Friday. The PNA will probably stay positive, because the four corner states will be under a ridge.

      • craig matthews

        I really hope you are right. I’m just so tired of being let down all the time. What has me concerned is what some of the latest computer models are showing, which is a deep polar low dropping down into the great lakes in the coming days. In the past, this has caused a blocking pattern over the western united states. It may not be the case this time however. A central United States trough in my thinking tele connectes with a west coast ridge and a southeast united states ridge, but I could be wrong on that. However I do agree that if a ridge sets up over the desert sw with a trough off the California coast, that would place us in a potentially very wet southwest flow. And some of the models show this happening around day 8, especially the ECMWF.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          If the ridge builds far enough north, and there is energy that undercuts the ridge, it could rain here and be bitterly cold in the Midwest at the same time. I think this hasn’t happened this season at least in part because the MJO has been weak to nonexistent. The MJO is forecast to be more active and move into Phase 7 or 8, which could lead to an undercutting jet for a time as long as the subtropical ridge doesn’t poke up too far north like how it was last week.

          • craig matthews

            Hopefully it will be different this time when the ridge builds way up into Alaska. Unlike what has been happening this past season where a new ridge pops up off socal. I think you are right about the lack of MJO playing a role in this happening. However this time around, with so much more convection occurring just west of the date line, it could help with the forcing of the pacific into central and socal.

  • mycoholic

    CPC has now brought SoCal in on the above average precip chances.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/

    The GFS 12Z looked especially wet for all of the state. Upwards of 3 inches across a majority of the state… while that particular model run may not verify, I’m hopeful that we’ll get a good thorough soaking at least.

    I find that being optimistic about the prospect a bit of relief from the drought costs me nothing and it affects my mood in a positive way. 🙂

  • Looks like there could be a pretty solid storm system towards the end of next week that would have much better dynamic support than the recent atmospheric river event, which means that more areas would see substantial precip even if overall precip maxima are lower. Also, rain would extend down into Central California and possibly parts of Southern California. I’m not interpreting this as a long-term pattern shift–looks like it’ll probably be a 3-5 day period of potential rain/snowfall. Once again, not drought busting–but good news nonetheless.

    • Cliff Collipriest

      Fingers crossed. Too many heritage oaks area already dying in this part of the state. Anything substantial will help. And the farmers need it too.

    • Cliff Collipriest

      My fingers are crossed. There are too many heritage oaks dying in this part of the state and any substantial rainfall will help. The farmers need it too.

  • Utrex

    I’m really anticipating this next storm system…

    Last storm we got that Atmospheric River… heavily orographic. The mountains got all the rain, but the valley missed more than half of the action.

    This time, this next storm system is dynamically driven, and with early Spring, the sun will produce decent convection currents.

    The majority of the precipitation is now centered over the CA valley rather than the mountains, as seen here:

    http://www.twisterdata.com/data/models/gfs/3/maps/2014/02/19/18/GFS_3_2014021918_F252_PCPIN_96_HR.png

    Now, the first low pressure system moves in on friday. This low is modeled to be cold, and carrying lots of instability. A high jet streak is roaring around this low as well. This low slams late next week, and it will produce enough energy for thunderstorms/severe thunderstorms.

    There will be a brief break in heavy rainfall, but we still will see some rain come through.

    After this “break”, a second low moves through. More thunderstorms could arrive, that is if the models are correct.

    This is too far out for the second low, but I have feelings the first low will make it past imagination land. Let’s hope we get some spring time rain (it’s spring already)!

    • craig matthews

      Hopefully this wet period will make it to socal. Still not seeing it happening here

    • rob b

      Utrex, thanks for the update. I think we need you to post again on the Tahoe weather blog. Seems some people can’t understand maps and models and choose to blame BA when it doesn’t snow…..or today when it snowed an inch they were upset he said there wouldn’t be measurable snowfall.

      • Utrex

        I feel like my rep has quite fallen down over at opensnow lol. I posted this “joke” that nobody understood and got quite the thumbs down lol

      • Kamau40

        BA knows what he is talking about when it comes to weather.

  • Bartshe

    Someone briefly mentioned this article way down in the discussion (NYTimes, Feb. 16), but thought it was worth another shout. Seemed like a basic and balanced article on drought causality and perspectives. Article introduced Jacob O. Sewall’s research, which I was not specifically aware of.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/17/science/some-scientists-disagree-with-presidents-linking-drought-to-warming.html?hpw&rref=science&_r=0

  • Dogwood

    And quietly, San Jose recorded .01″ rain this morning, marking the eighth calendar day this February with at least a piddle in the gauge. Something has changed.

  • snow755

    522. Dr. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology (Admin)
    3:18 PM GMT on February 20, 2014 +8

    I won’t be making a post today or Friday, as I’m taking a few vacation days. I’ll have a guest post on El Niño posted on Friday. We could see a Super-El Niño this fall!
    if we see a super EL NINO boy oh boy next fall and winter it will be nuts

    • alanstorm

      Light at the end of the tunnel! I remember 1982-83 in Humboldt Co. Warm, dark storms, big southerly gusts that knocked you over, river flooding and even a funnel cloud from a supercell in Ferndale! Bring it on

    • Mike Stephenson

      I hope we have another Jan 2010 event, that was a wild week of thunderstorms; knocked down 30 year old trees at my house from a microburst

      • craig matthews

        If you ever get a chance take a ride on the skunk train up in fort bragg and theres a large area of downed trees along the ride that was from a microburst in that same storm in January 2010 I believe. That’s very interesting

    • I’m really starting to be intrigued by what the equatorial Pacific is doing. Next winter certainly has the potential to be radically different than the current one…

    • Utrex

      We might even see an el nino this spring…

    • Kamau40

      Is this the Dr. Jeff Masters who I read about everyday on wunderground.com? If so welcome to the club.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        No, he is just quoting a comment that Jeff Masters made on the comment section of his blog on wunderground.com regarding the possible El Nino next season.

        • Kamau40

          Ok!

  • snow755

    From sfo adf

    OUTSIDE OF RAIN, WIND WILL LIKELY BECOME A FACTOR AS A 978 MB SURFACE
    LOW MOVES JUST TO THE WEST OF SAN FRANCISCO. WORTH NOTING THAT THE
    LOW GREATLY DEEPENS AS IT NEARS THE COAST WHICH LEADS CREDENCE TO
    A POSSIBLE WIND EVENT FOR OUR AREA. NOT ALL OF THE MODELS DEPICT
    THIS, BUT WITH IT ON THE ECMWF, WILL NEED TO KEEP A CLOSE EYE FOR
    ANY WIND POTENTIAL.

  • Robin White

    I’m a pilot, not a meteorologist, so my relationship to weather is a little different from many of you here. That said, checking back through many years of logbook entries suggests how skewed winters have become in California. Whereas a “typical” winter was dominated by surface winds from 280 to 340, with a substantial southerly wind/rain event every couple of weeks or so, that has changed. For several years now the flow has been more northerly, even northeasterly, and we treat the prospects of a typical winter storm the way shipwrecked sailors view a ship on the horizon. Will it turn this way? Will we be saved?
    Now it’s very possible these “observations” of mine are also skewed by covering too brief a sample period. But that’s sure how it seems.
    Robin

    • Flunking_retirement

      As a sailor, I have to agree with you Robin. The North Pacific plays for keeps, in normal years you ignore it at your own risk. This has been one of the more forgiving winters Ive seen, and about as skewed as they get. They don’t call these semi permanent ridges and domes blocking highs for nothing.

    • Mike Stephenson

      I grew up in the 90’s in socal, i remember all day soakers, thunderstorms, and very cold sana ana wind events. Seems everything dropped off after year 2000, and even more so after jan 2010. I havent even been snowboarding the last 2 years because its been so miserable. I also remember hotter summers, but it seems like there has been more troughing in the summers that keep it cooler?

      • The 1990s were an unusually wet and active decade in California, meteorologically speaking.

        • craig matthews

          Here on the central coast of California we had only 2 dry winters in the 1990s, and those two dry winters were just barely dry. Those winters were 1990-91, and 1993-94. My favorite winter of all time has been 1992-93 here locally, due to the unusual convective activity that came with each storm that winter. We officially had a tornado in Monterey on the Dec.27 1992 storm. And quarter size hail in big sur, and snow down to sea level in early January 1993.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        We turned drier in general when the PDO went negative in mid 1998, and the 2000’s to the present have certainly been drier overall with a couple of exceptions. 2004-05 was one of Socal’s wettest winters and was a time period when the PDO went back to positive between mid 2002 and sometime in late 2006 or early 2007. Our driest years lately have occurred when the PDO is negative, the AMO is positive and ENSO is either very weak (slightly warm or slightly cold) or neutral.

    • This observation is pretty close to the truth! Zonal (west to east) winds have been much weaker than usual over CA over the past 24 months, and southerly/swly winds have been weak in the absence of frontal systems. Northerly and NEly winds have occurred with unusual regularity due to the highly amplified flow trajectory associated with the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.

  • lightning10

    The models came in weaker for the first system and the second model only looks good after the resolution change.

  • Models have trended weaker and drier with storm #1, but storm number two (day 9) looks like it could potentially have the best dynamic support of any system since December 2012. Overall rain totals may not be very high–perhaps 2-4 inches in the favored coastal hills–but the big difference is that most lowland areas in Northern and Central CA will likely see at least an inch. Strong winds associated with a pretty deep surface low could actually be a significant problem with this second system, as well. The models are already trending towards the quick reestablishment of a dry pattern in early March. I’ll have a formal update this weekend, and will hopefully have some discussion of the increasingly promising El Nino event for next winter.

    • craig matthews

      Hopefully the polar vortex over the great lakes won’t ruin our rain potential next week. Looks to me like its going to take 2 storms to get the 3rd one to our coast. Aside from that, with regards to el nino, I have noticed a remarkable change in the flow pattern between Indonesia and the date line in the last month. And there has been some remarkable explosions of convective activity west of the date line along the equator lately as well. I’m wondering what you think of it. Seams similar to what happened in late winter and early spring of 1997, before the “big one”.

    • Shaggy

      Guess which state shows the largest geographic area of expanded drought this week, per USDM? Surprise – it’s not California, but Arizona (by a nose). http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/MapsAndData/ChangeMaps.aspx Any help out there in the medium range? I thought March was looking more promising, no?

      • Loyal Brooks

        Bringing attention to the situation in AZ is much appreciated here. As time allows, a thorough answer to your question will be addressed. Last time I checked, AZ was in the west, as the title of this blog says. Hang in there….

        • Shaggy

          Thanks for cooling my jets. And hey, the interior Southwest is generally more accustomed to being passed over in the weather blogs than we are an entire winter’s worth of precipitation. What we really need, like our West Coast compadres, is the rain, more than the conversational throw of the bone. Of course, being only human, misery loves company and the feeling of belonging too. Cheers

  • Loyal Brooks

    A very interesting set of weather forecasts has established itself – and this almost never happens. According the the CPS’s write-up concerning the 6-10 and 8-14-day forecast, which is probably the best I’ve seen for CA in quite some time, the 6-10 day fcst is yielding 3-5″ of precip over N and C CA! The CPC even goes on to say “above median precip is favored for S CA due to the trend among the monel guidance.”

    For the 6-10-day forecast, there they are using blends, as they always do. They are giving a blend centered on day 8.The GFS 0Z ensemble me

    • Loyal Brooks

      And, on the 8-14 day forecast, which continues favored wetness for CA, All are centered on day 11d and include runs based on 30% 0Z GFS ensemble means, 30% 6Z GFS ensemble means, and 40% of today’s 0Z European ensemble mean.

      Confidence on the 8-14 day period is average (3 of 5) due to good agreement among the 0Z/6Z GFS and 0Z ECMWF means offset by smaller 500 mb height anomalies.

    • I’m a little surprised about the 8-14 day projection–days 6-10 look pretty wet, but it looks like ridging will try to edge back toward CA after days 9-10. Either way, the day 7-9 storm looks pretty decent at the moment. We’ll know more this weekend…

  • Loyal Brooks

    We are having here in Minneapolis a snowstorm, followed by an extended arctic plunge which make the facts below seem very unusual. This rarely ever happens like this.

    Today, we are expecting 8-12″ of snow here in town, with an incredibly deep and still deepening low moving off to our NE over Lake Superior. Tomorrow will be the start of the arctic plunge with blowing and drifting snow – and travel for any reason is not advised. After that, the arctic opens up and will give us once again highs struggling to get above zero, with singles and teens below at night. The chills will minus 15 to 25 for more than a week.

    Yet CA is expecting a wet period. This is truly rare. Someone below commented that the “Polar Vortex” over the Midwest may bring continued dryness to CA – in this case NOT!! Yes!!

    Now i can enjoy this storm play out and experience the arctic flood – AND – see it rain with abundance (hopefully) in CA at the same time! Wow!

    • Xerophobe

      I’m interested in how this plays out as well. I think what was real odd was that the vortex or whatever one wants to call it had a bulge of it hanging over your head almost all season and other latitudes were not affected as much or at all.

      • Loyal Brooks

        You are on to something here. The unusual and frequent SW positioning of the Hudson Low is quite unusual. I casually dismissed it as just a response to the highly amplified ridge out west – bringing a strong N flow on its E side, so the HL needed to move westward a bit to accommodate the amplified ridge.

        There’s more going on here. The Hudson Low only rarely makes a brief pass over us perhaps once in 20 years or so, but it does have troughs from it that rotate southward and over us that help usher in arctic air. I’m seeing that the Hudson Low’s position itself has helped to shape and sustain the amplified ridge to it’s west (to some extent).

        The entire hemisphere is working together with “interlocking gears,” if you will, and the Hudson Low is one of them. The HL is a permanent feature on winter 500mb weather maps. Because the ridge was so narrow and highly amplified, the HL had to have moved westward a bit to accommodate the ridge and general flow around the world.

        Now, what is allowing or forcing the HL to move to the west more easily than it otherwise would?

        • Xerophobe

          Your guess would be better than mine! lol I’m going to ask an acquaintance of mine who more than dabbles with this stuff and get back on this.

    • alanstorm

      Ouch! I almost feel guilty sipping my coffee in the warm morning sun. (Well, no actually) Really the first time this year I can enjoy it with a happy heart because everything turned a nice green this last week & more is on the way! I’ve been watching those NOAA models pumping in the moisture next week, even far south to our perched friends in So Cal! Seeing that dipping down of Arctic air so far south into the Midwest while we get a zonal flow is kind if odd, though.

    • craig matthews

      That might have been me that said something about the polar vortex and its just an observation I’ve been having as of late. That when the polar vortex is displaced sw over the great lakes region it seams to lock up the pattern across the united states. The polar vortex being displaced to the southwest may be a reaction to the highly amplified ridge over the ne pacific. And as of late when the ridge over the ne pacific amplifies way up into Alaska the pacific jet has not been able to undercut the ridge because a new ridge forms between socal and Hawaii. However this time around it appears the models are showing a different case scenario, that is having the ne pacific ridge amplify up into Alaska once again and the polar vortex near the great lakes, however this time models are in very good agreement that the pacific jet will undercut the ridge and take aim into California. This is something new and a change to what we’ve been seeing so far this winter. I’m not saying that it is not possible to have the polar vortex in the great lakes region and a wet stormy pattern in California. I’m just saying that is a less common pattern, and as of late, a very rare pattern. I hope the models are correct in their forecast. If it plays out, its going to make for a very stormy period for perhaps the entire country over the next 2 weeks.

      • Loyal Brooks

        You are on to something here. The unusual and frequent SW positioning of the Hudson Low is quite rare. I casually dismissed it as just a response to the highly amplified ridge out west – bringing a strong N flow on its E side, so the HL needed to move westward a bit to accommodate the amplified ridge.

        There’s more going on here. The Hudson Low only rarely makes a brief pass over us perhaps once in 20 years or so, but it does have troughs from it that rotate southward and over us that helps reinforce arctic air, preventing much modification in this area. I’m seeing that the Hudson Low’s position itself has helped to shape and sustain the amplified ridge to it’s west (to some extent).

        The entire hemisphere is working together with “interlocking gears,” if you will, and the Hudson Low is one of them. The HL is a semi-permanent feature on winter 500mb weather maps. Because the ridge was so narrow and highly amplified, the HL had to have moved westward a bit to accommodate the ridge and general flow around the world.

        Now, what is allowing or forcing the HL to move to the west more easily than it otherwise would?

      • Loyal Brooks

        You are very keen in your thinking. The west coast ridge is the main feature west of the Hudson Low (polar vortex). These two act like “interlocking gears.” The ridge is not at all independent of what is downstream of it.

        As a meteorologist, we think in terms of hours and look out up to two weeks. This blog is really about climate, and many in here are having trouble separating the two and they are actually equating the two. No El Nino is ever a guarantee of wetness in CA, it is more likely. It is honestly not known what the PDO does in it’s phases, though theories are arising.

        If you want a comprehensive look at the various teleconnections in one interactive place, with description of what it is thought they each do to influence weather in America, maybe you’d be interested in looking at the following link. You can click on the map, or better click on the alphabet at the bottom to jump right to PDO or whatever you’d like.https://www2.ucar.edu/news/backgrounders/weather-maker-glossary

  • Utrex

    I am very interested in Friday of next week’s storm…

    This is what was brought up in the latest gfs ensemble…

    http://www.twisterdata.com/data/models/gfs/3/maps/2014/02/21/00/GFS_3_2014022100_F192_LFTX_SURFACE.png

    http://www.twisterdata.com/data/models/gfs/3/maps/2014/02/21/00/GFS_3_2014022100_F192_CAPE_SURFACE.png

    The core of the instability is centered directly over Sacramento. That’s right where I live.

    This is what I’ve been waiting for a a very long time. I am just fascinated by thunderstorms, especially supercells. We got upper level shear, so I guess that’s O.K.

    As for the moisture, there’s more than enough coming in… There’s one more thing left to check

    http://www.twisterdata.com/data/tmp/scratch/models/processing/GFS_3_2014022100_F192_38.5000N_121.5000W_HODO.png

    The hodograph. Look, it has turning winds! They’re pretty high winds too. This means we’ll see quite the cumulus/cumulonimbus clouds out of this.

    This also means we’ll see low-topped supercells (liike always).

    I swear if this validates through the week, I’ll be so happy…

  • ApocalypseNow

    I don’t buy that the system is going to make it to the LA area. All the LA area will get is increased cloudiness, and maybe, a few drops. Face it; LA aint gonna see any more rain for til next fall. LA will have a grand total of under two inches of rain for the 2013-2014. Less rain than Kuwait City and Dubai and most places in the Sahara. In fact, this may be the new normal in LA. CLIMATE CHANGE PEOPLE!

    • alanstorm

      Naw, fear.not, Mr. Apocolpse, it looks as if we are getting back to a normal zonal wet-pattern of strong, moist lows dislodging brief highs. The whole state looks to get wet TWICE next Thurs & Sat, with the latter being the stronger of the 2 & these babies tracking way further south. Can you feel it in the air? Its optimism!

      • ApocalypseNow

        Something’s not right here. This isn’t just the usual cycle of drought. It could be the beginning of the end of climate change catastrophe. Mega droughts some places and raging floods in others. I predict that this summer is going to be the hottest one on record world wide. The Atlantic will see unprecedented devastating hurricanes with category 5’s hitting land every month from July through November. The Midwest will see heat waves with heat indexes over 130. This will also be a record tornado season all over the center of the U.S. California is going to have a nonstop Santa Ana season year round. LA’s rainfall averages will drop to about half an inch PER YEAR. Sierra snowpack is gonna become nonexistent. Climate change is real.

        • alanstorm

          Jeez. Don’t be such a Gloomy Gus. You guys are bumming me out! Hey, I’m just happy we are getting some rain. Rejoice! Sure, Arctic sea-ice melt may be “rearranging” the weather a bit, whether natural cycle or manmade or both, that cat is already out of the bag & we are all along for the ride! Please stop wishing so much death and destruction for all of us on my favorite weather blog.

          • ApocalypseNow

            It’s not “wishing”. It’s stating facts. Global Warming is real. I wish things would stay “normal,” but nothing is guaranteed with all the climate change. They are predicting that 2014 will be the hottest year ever recorded.

          • It’s certainly a fact that global warming is real. But there’s a big difference between making bold claims about what the future holds and actually using available evidence to make scientifically-informed projections.

            Let’s try to keep things on-topic in the comments section. Discussion of climate change is more than okay, but let’s keep it firmly rooted in fact, rather than assertion. Thanks!

          • Robin White

            I encounter a lot of “deniers” who base their opinions on carefully selected data, or just plain belief. Burt Rutan has put forward an “engineer’s analysis” of historic climate data that pours cold water on GCC. Rutan, as you might expect, is a trusted authority in the aviation community. See his analysis here:http://rps3.com/Files/Ochkosh_2010_talks/Oshkosh2010.EngrCritique.AGW.pdf
            Some of the people I argue with are still vulnerable to facts (not all of them for sure). What climate “signals” would you cite to support your statement that global warming is real? I’d like to use them, too.
            Robin

          • A brief perusal of that document suggests an impressive hodgepodge of blatant factual inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and incendiary claims. Interestingly, the author appears to first suggest that global warming is not happening, then later claims that humans could not possibly have caused the observed global warming, and yet ultimately states that global warming will have a net positive effect on the planet. It would seem to me that these conclusions (regardless of factual accuracy) do not exhibit even internally consistent logic.

            A good resource for debunking these sorts of claims about climate change is the Skeptical Science website ( https://www.skepticalscience.com ). Everything I’ve read on that site thus far has been factually accurate and scientifically justifiable (yet relatively accessible to a general audience).

          • Loyal Brooks

            Wow! An audience presented with this slick cherry picked information, would easily fall for this “secret” information that is being hidden from the public. I imagine some walk away feeling that they are “in on something” that the rest of are unaware of or are fooled by actual scientists.

            They would conclude that the public is a fool for ever believing in the lie of global warming lie – and most are a fool, as if we have no mind at all. Just take a look at this blog, for instance – people here are real and demonstrate they have a mind of their own. Some are even so brash to as present findings of their own, whatever it may be.

            Then, his story changes to say that global warming is occurring, and how beneficial it is, like crops grow best with a drastic increase of CO2, with increased rainfall that will occur in crop-growing regions.

            My question is that if Rutan is so trusted in aviation circles, that shows that the aviation community doesn’t think outside HIS box. See Weather West below, who explained this best….

          • Desmond

            When the ice pack melts which wont be too long (max 20 years) the methane will be released into the environment killing everything. Green energy is a complete hoax to be absorbed by idiots. Global warming is not reversible. The game now is one of smoke and mirrors to dumb down the public to what is really going on. The facts are out there on the internet if you want to learn.

        • Never Too Soon to Panic

          I’m glad we’re on good terms with Canada! Should be pretty nice up there over the next couple hundred years.

        • Loyal Brooks

          This “analysis” is more like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater than anything else. It isn’t tethered to anything.

          Most examples shown are a bit over the top, except for one: a 130F heat index here in MN is not very far off. As many know, MN has very deep summers, which are sometimes oppressive. The combination of heat with extreme dew points in the upper 70s is not really bearable. Back in the summer of 2012, just south of us in Iowa, there was an official 126F reading (index included) and an unofficial 129F reported nearby.

          Here it was “only” in low the 120s, but that is not safe to live in. It is in the news that heat waves bring extra deaths in the midwest – and from CA that doesn’t seem realistic. Well, put 99F and 79F dew point together with no clouds and see how well you feel!

          • Dan the Weatherman

            CA simply never has the extreme dew points that the Midwest and east have because the waters of the Pacific Ocean are much cooler off the west coast even down into northern Baja. The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean have much warmer water temperatures that can be as high as the low-mid 80s and even higher at times in certain places. This is a major source of very muggy air that is so common in the eastern part of the U.S. and evaporation also plays a role I believe.

          • Loyal Brooks

            I was responding to a series of wild statements of the outrageous that was at the time the immediate thought written after it. In all of that, I actually found just one that was actually in the ballpark!

            From a CA perspective, it doesn’t make sense that so many people die just from a mild heat wave. For decades, it was assumed that the Gulf of Mexico was the source of moisture during those intense periods of mid-summer heat. We now know it isn’t just that. The surface moisture also comes from intensive irrigation of corn – covering many thousands of sq. mi. to our S. As corn grows, it transpires so much water into the lower atmosphere, the summer climate is truly changed by the addition of so much water not naturally found in these latitudes – and not more southerly ones..

            Dewpoints to our S are only around 70F for hundreds of miles b4 rising to 75-79F in this area. Summer GOM humidity has mostly rained out far to our south b4 it ever reaches these latitudes. Those killer summer heat waves do not occur in the S half of the nation.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          One thing I will say is that we won’t have a non-stop Santa Ana event year around, because the pattern is different in the summer than in the winter. Surface highs don’t make it into the desert, since they travel with the jet stream and the jet stream is usually way up in Canada during the summer months. Additionally, the intense heating of the deserts causes more rising air motion, creating a “heat low” centered around the Colorado River region, that allows a stronger rush of air to come in from the ocean to replace it (increased onshore flow).

          • Never Too Soon to Panic

            I grew up in an area with Santa Anas. Great weather for flying big kites!

        • Mike Stephenson

          There has to be some minimum average rainfall even in a drought period right? If LA sees 1 inch per year we would lose our forests in the local mountains. They would look like the back side of san jacinto in palm springs. Does anyone know how old CA forests are? or if they have ever been wiped out in a drought period in the past?

    • Never Too Soon to Panic

      Human-caused or not, climate change was bound to happen. We are in an interglacial period, which means glacial retreat, less precipitation and more evaporation. The west has been drying out for eons. The Great Salt Lake used to be a vast freshwater lake, for example. The challenges of climate change are an opportunity for this country to show what we are made of. We will have to innovate and conserve, and learn to do without, perhaps. This is California, one of the biggest economies in the world. Half the state is already irrigated from far away sources. No reason we can’t build some more aqueducts. Maybe instead of agriculture the central valley can specialize in solar electricity production. We will find a way to continue to thrive and survive. Eventually, the process will reverse and things will start to get wetter. We are maybe half way to the driest climate already. So another couple hundred years of drying out and then the process reverses. I know I’m oversimplifying things here but that’s the gist of it, I think.

      • There’s a huge mismatch in timescales here. Climatic changes that occur over “eons,” as you say, have a drastically different impact than changes over decades, as we’re currently experiencing. Certainly, at some point in the Earth’s geological future, conditions will be wetter (and drier, for that matter!) in the region-currently-known-as-California than they are currently. But on that kind of geological timescale, Los Angeles may have completed its slow but inexorable journey up the plate boundary to become a city located west of San Francisco…

        • Never Too Soon to Panic

          True that. I’m not being very precise with terms or time frames. My main point is that nothing climatic lasts forever, and we have to be prepared to rise to the occasion when the shi* hits the fan.

  • lightning10

    I think LA will only get about 0.5-0.75 when all is said and done. Seen a ton of these systems where the best dynamics stay just to the north. Also the first system will likely fall apart being how dry the atmosphere is.

    • craig matthews

      I think the final in the series of systems predicted for next week will dig further south as it approaches the state thus giving socal more rain then norcal. That final storm looks like it could take on a negative tilt as it approaches the coast which places the traverse range and valleys to the south in the bullseye.

  • Utrex

    Alright, just to make it easier to understand for some of you….

    An el nino is when the trade winds (the winds which make the high pressure systems over california and pressure systems everywhere else running along the horse latitudes) weakens. Strong/extreme el ninos form when very strong westerlies form, and create kelvin waves which surge the warm western pacific waters into the eastern pacific area, or the nino 3.4. When that happens, the high pressure off the CA coast dies, and is replaced with a strong upper-low, although it is known that low/moderate el ninos don’t always make this situation happen.

    This is why CA, and basically all of CA gets such a wet period during el ninos. Lows are actually commonplace during el ninos, especially strong el ninos. During 1997-1998, a non-stop parade of severe upper-level lows came marching in and, well, we saw tornadoes, etc. In 1998, all of California that year received 20 tornadoes!

    Severe thunderstorms aren’t uncommon/rare at all during a strong/extreme el nino.

    • Kelley Rogers

      So we need and want El Nino?!

      • Utrex

        Yes… If it is for the drought.

        But I am aware severe is dangerous. It never gets Midwest bad through. Plus, the tornadoes in CA aren’t intense.

      • Zepp

        Need, yes. Want? Well, that might be overstating it. In 97-98, we had a small atmospheric river set up, and for 38 days it never quite quit raining. We began at Christmas with two feet of snow on the ground, and by New Years’ the snow was gone, and there was widespread flooding. For the month of January we got 39″ of precip, all rain.

        Dr. Jeff Masters is indicating this may be stronger than the 97 event. So be careful what you ask for. If we flood, I’ll hold you personally responsible.

        • Kelley Rogers

          Well I am really into learning and understanding the weather these days. Thank the damn RRR for that! I would love to see some decent rainfall but nothing catastrophic of course. So is there a possible El Nino setting up?

          • Utrex

            Yes. I can guarantee an 80% chance of some form of an el nino.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          The question is this: is it possible to have a stronger El Nino than 1997-98 during a -PDO episode or not? A moderate to strong El Nino is certainly possible, but whether it exceeds the 1982-83 or 1997-98 events I do not really know, as those two events occurred in the +PDO phase. The AMO phase doesn’t really matter when we have a significant El Nino in progress, and can just be as wet in a +AMO or a -AMO regime.

    • craig matthews

      January 20th, 2010 was a waterspout off big sur. And the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in Monterey was around that time as well. That was a high end moderate el nino. If this one is strong, I cant wait.

  • lightning10

    Well it is looking like it could be more of a big thunderstorm producer if it goes to plan here for California.

    • System number 2 does appear to have some decent convective potential, and could have some pretty high rain rates even if overall precip totals are not particularly high. This may include SoCal, too.

  • rainscout

    Sure hope next week produces as much as we can get..hard to believe as it just seems so warm and dry right now..but we will take anything that resembles winter”weather” this year…would pray for it to continue well into March..but that looks questionable right now…we still have at least 12 inches of rain to go to get the least amount ever recorded in the Santa Cruz mtns. around 20 in. we are at 8.5 right now..never thought I would see so little coming to the end of the third week of Feb..one just hopes this year was a really bad nightmare that won’t be repeated anytime soon…Bring on the 1982-1983 el-nino..we had over 100 inches that year!! I knew it was glorious when I heard nothing but complaining..and I was like a pig in….mud!!

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Even though I have been predicting this year to be drier than normal across Socal due to the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral combination, I never thought it would be this dry this late into February and I certainly thought Norcal would have been a lot better off than they are currently.

      • craig matthews

        It appears to be more then just the -PDO/+AMO ENSO neutral phase. Like we’ve discussed before and you’ve brought this up too is that there are many things lining up just right to cause this highly unusual anomaly here. And even when the atmosphere is in a constant state of change it still appears to line up, which I find strange. But now, it appears as though we are slowly getting back into a more typical pattern, though its a little late now. My question is if a strong el nino does in fact develop in the coming months, will it temporarily change the PDO to positive? It has happened before.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          I do agree that there is more than just the -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral regime that is causing this extreme dryness, especially whatever has been responsible for the incredibly long reign of the RRR. The lack of MJO activity this season is another element that I think has been factoring into this season’s dominant pattern.
          If a strong El Nino develops, the PDO could definitely go positive for awhile. As a matter of fact this January’s PDO index value is weakly positive, and whether a string of positive numbers occur from now on into later in the year remains to be seen or it fluctuates between positive and negative.

          • craig matthews

            I’m wondering if this predicted series of pacific storms and associated low level sw flow will have an effect on that large warm blob of above average ssts in the ne pacific. It will be interesting to see what becomes of that large blob of warm waters in the next month or so.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I am not sure whether it will or not. This series of storms appears as if it will undercut the ridge, so that part of the Pacific may not experience the stormy conditions or at least not to the extent further south.

  • craig matthews

    The grass just sprouted this last week here in the mountains of big sur. Normally the grass sprouts between Halloween and thanksgiving here locally, then goes to seed in march. This is just one example of the ground effects of the RRR in my local area. Now that the green grass has sprouted, we need rain on a regular basis to keep it growing. Which will hopefully be next week. And another wild thing happening here is the unusual early budding cottonwood trees, about a month and a half early in some spots. Interesting note here is the last time the cottonwoods budded this early was in February 1997. Don’t really know if that means anything but its interesting to me. Ocean temp off pt sur today around 57, which is 5 degrees above normal. And that big blob of warmer then average ssts appears to be getting closer to the cali coast. All I can say is, its getting very interesting already, and I think we are in for some very wild weather in the next year, even during the summer. Don’t really have scientific explanation for it other then it just feels like the calm before the storm to me.

    • Shaggy

      Cottonwoods are just leafing out in southern AZ as well, which includes at elevations up to 4000 ft. This is a full month earlier than last year when the desert floors were seeing snow and frequent hard freezes.

      • craig matthews

        My friend in tuzon says its been in the 80’s every day at their house. This is a very early start to spring, and winter never even began.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          I was watching the Accenture Match Play golf tournament this afternoon that is being held just outside of Tucson, and they showed pictures of the snowfall that affected the tournament last winter. Today, they were reporting that it was in the low 70s as of mid afternoon, and it looked as if there were some thin high clouds, along with a few lower level clouds.

          • Shaggy

            Weak wave in zonal flow drifting in from Mexico, but the surface regime is extremely dry with dew points in the low teens. It’s always a struggle out here getting the surface to moisten up at the onset of storm systems, but with a long fetch and decent dynamics I’m hoping we might eke out a few tenths of an inch from next weekend’s storms.

  • rainscout

    well I will say..until Man got invovled with the industrial age and fossil fuel addiction and maybe skewed it all up..that nature had a way of more or less evening things out..not always perfect in mans eyes but maybe extended dry periods followed by intense wet ones..and average precipitation and temp. normals would more or less balance out…what if after the two driest years on record we were lucky enough to get a very wet year to help offset the amazing rain and weather non-existence of the current period…The winter of 1982-1983 brought us the best rain totals of my life here in the Santa Cruz Mtns…and I recall realatively minor damage considering over 100 inches fell that winter..but again some of the storm “damage” is human caused as so many people are in a flood plain or side of a coastal mtn. that has been road cut and has become unstable …We seem to have an amazing capacity to blame “Mother Nature” for any weather related “disasters”..but we of course act like “innocent’ bystanders….as the old saying goes…”Nature always bats last”…

  • Utrex

    Despite the dry weather possibly coming through early march, cfsv2 is showing above normal precip for CA.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/people/mchen/CFSv2FCST/monthly/images/CFSv2.NaPrecProb.20140221.201403.gif

    Maybe we are having an early spring el nino, and that ridge which usually pops up during spring will go away

    • Kamau40

      Not necessarily! Remember, the upcoming El Niño event will have very little, if not any, impact on this season’s weather.

  • weatheroligiosity

    This didnt affect Socal at all. hopefully going to rain next week. Still feels like summer though. Wish jet stream wasnt taking all our clouds to east coast.

  • alanstorm

    Forget about ElNino for the moment, we’ve storms a-comin! Maybe even L.A. gets in on the action. We got locked in that lame ,Rosby waved RRR pattern for awhile, maybe we’ll get locked in a warm, moist zonal flow. That’s what its all about, stagnant patterns from wavy jetstream from melting Arctic ice. Break out the umbrellas.

  • Utrex

    So Cal might get hit hard next week.

  • redlands

    Utrez — I wont believe it – till I see it — this whole season has been a complete flop — extremely boring season

  • redlands

    test

  • Upcoming storm #2 slated for Friday could be pretty strong. There could be a fairly widespread (if brief) period of intense rainfall, strong winds, and possible thunderstorms. Rain totals may actually stay on the moderate side overall, but rates could be high near the point of cold frontal passage. Latest model runs suggesting the potential for a significant wind event in NorCal. Full update by Sunday afternoon.

    • craig matthews

      Salinas valley and santa clara valley could be in for a strong wind event if those models are correct in regards to a tight south to north press gradient next Friday with incoming deep low off sfo.

      • It has been a while. This may be a very interesting system to watch

        • craig matthews

          There has been a real lack of dynamic type storms coming from the central pacific into central and socal for quite some time. The Friday storm could be one of the biggest storms we’ve seen since the 2010-11 winter if the current models hold true.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            There really has been a lack of storms coming off the Pacific into the southern half of CA and this pattern seemed to develop in the fall of 2011 after the really wet 2010-11 season. That is one of the main reasons that the rainfall has been so meager as of late as storms have been coming fro British Columbia and Alaska thanks to the dominance of the RRR and the over land trajectory and the cold origin of the storms have caused the storms to be lacking in moisture content.

  • lightning10

    National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard California
    900 am PST Sat Feb 22 2014

    By Friday…both the GFS and European models are advertising a very
    dynamic storm to affect the entire forecast area through Saturday
    evening. At this time…a strong surface low (989 mb) will set up
    off the coast of San Francisco which will strengthen the southerly
    flow ahead of the approaching front. The combination of precipitable
    waters over an inch…a 120 knots jet (left front quadrant exit region)
    aimed at Ventura/la counties and relatively strong low level wind
    shear will bring copious amounts of rain…wind and even the
    potential of severe thunderstorms.

    • Severe Wx

      Rarely have I seen NWS talk with such detail about a storm that is almost week away. That is very encouraging.

      • That might be jumping the gun a little bit. This certainly looks like an impressive storm, and not just in a relative sense. But for now, though, I think the most sensible statement is that a soaking rain looks pretty likely from the Mexican border all the way up to Oregon.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          They may be getting just a bit too excited because there just hasn’t been much to get excited about down here practically all season until now. It is a little early to mention the possibility of severe thunderstorms, but not too early to mention the rain potential, though. This could be the biggest storm of the season for Socal, and it wouldn’t take much to produce the biggest storm for my area since the largest total here at my house is only .37″ and that was way back on November 22.

          • Scott Turner

            What’s bumming me out is that there doesn’t look like a lot behind this storm. I just hiked Mt. San Jacinto – in February. There should have been three feet of snow today.

  • craig matthews

    Earlier in the week the computer models were showing another deep polar low moving sw to the great lakes region, but now they are backing off on that idea and pushing the PL further east then northeast in the next week. My opinion may not be right here about the polar low{or polar vortex}, but this is a good sign to me that more room will be given for the pacific jet to freely slam into the west coast next week with little resistance. Not only that, but some of the latest models keep the flow pattern progressive after next Fridays possible big storm, and bring potentially more wet systems in a fast almost zonal flow aimed at California all the way out beyond day 10. I’m so happy to see this trend and hope it continues. Better late then never!

  • Azmordean

    Up at South Lake Tahoe right now. Skied yesterday, taking today off (decided to leave Saturday to the hordes and sleep in), will ski again tomorrow before heading back.

    Conditions at Heavenly are quite good with the mix of atmospheric river cement and snowgun powder. Gorgeous blue bird day with temps in the upper 40s up top.

    Looks like several feet of snow on the mountain with next week’s storms. Mid March looking dry unfortunately but hoping for more in late March for awesome spring conditions in April :).

  • Models now keying in on what could be quite a strong storm on day 7 for the entire state of California. While this still does not appear to be the start of a sustained pattern change, the system currently slated for next Friday has the potential to bring intense precipitation, strong winds, and perhaps even thunderstorms. Full blog update either today or tomorrow.

    • Loyal Brooks

      Hallelujah, and yes it does. Please write up about what you see – and why. All of us want to know what you are thinking, and what you are considering and leaving out. Good job (in advance) for the new post.

    • Utrex

      This really reminds me of the winter of 2010-2011! 🙂

      • rob b

        Utrex, sure hope so. March 2011 produced some epic snowfalls in the Sierra’s which finished up with a decent snowfall in early June enabling Squaw and Alpine to say open to July 4th!

  • Given late breaking developments in the tropical Pacific, I think it’s also time to start the discussion about El Nino. There’s a very impressive Kelvin wave currently propagating eastward, and the ocean state is starting to very much resemble a pre-El Nino state. This additional discussion may push the update back to Sunday afternoon, but it will definitely be up this weekend.

    • craig matthews

      I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Its really starting to get interesting west of the date line.

  • redlands

    I wouldnt get too excited — theres a good chance that this storm could flop — hope am wrong — still too far out

    • Utrex

      I doubt it. Given that the high pressure is modeled to elongate and be tall and narrow, the pacific jet stream will intensify and break through the center of the ridge, creating a split jet. Then, the first low will move in, weaken from the high pressure, but the second one is the most powerful, shooting CA with a strong surface and upper level low. The third is another weak low, and then we get more sunny skies.

    • Severe Wx

      Relands, with the way models have been trending, I can’t help not be excited. Even this far out, the models have been extremely consistent with this storm and that is very encouraging. Besides, we are overdue for such a powerhouse storm.

      • Dreamer

        I’ll believe it when I see it? Thunderstorms in the LA area?

  • lightning10

    If models stay on track…you can expect
    periods of heavy rain…especially across south facing foothill and
    mountain slopes including the San Gabriel Mountains and Santa Ynez
    range. There could be some waterspouts or weak tornadoes over
    coastal areas on Friday into Saturday.

    • Severe Wx

      12z GFS just took a adrenaline boost. Dishes out more than 2.5 inches for coastal areas of L.A! If we are even close to what the 12z GFS is showing, we are in for something much more than that.

      • Dreamer

        SO that means LA could get more rain this coming Saturday than they got in the entire year of 2013 TOTAL?

  • alanstorm

    You guys want weather fun down in So Cal? You got it! I only wish models had it hang around longer. Impressive waves come in later only to be dissolved or pushed north by stupid pop-up highs. Looks like my area & into Oregon getting a serious dent put in the drought. Considering where we were during that downright scary & depressing January, these are happier days!

  • It’s possible that the focus of this upcoming system could actually be in SoCal, based on storm structure. Update will likely be out early this evening…

  • redlands

    So what are they predicting – rainwise

    • snow755

      Don’t you read the ADF from your area if you did you will no that ? All ready

      • redlands

        whats the adf

        • Unbiased Observer

          Area forecast discussion from your local NWS office. In your case it would be San Diego.

  • Utrex

    Although it may change, it looks as if the first storm will now have more potential to produce thunderstorms in North California than the second storm, because it looks as though the stronger second low will mainly be impacting SoCal.

    HOWEVER… models are stupid and never predict the correct timing! I remember this weak innocent shortwave low which was forecast to pass by NorCal. It carried a weak surface low as well. Ironically, the low sped up and it was forecast to move through the night, producing a 20% chance of showers…

    Well it arrived by afternoon and produced t-storms lol.

  • craig matthews

    The latest GFS runs are doing some strange things to the rain field associated with the second late weak storm. It appears the cold front may take on a negative tilt as it approaches the central coast which is not good if you want orographic enhancement along the coast range of central cal. A southeast flow at the surface and aloft and the coldfront paralleling the coast range tends to keep the heaviest rainfall offshore in my past observation here, which can be wrong so don’t believe me here. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the first storm actually brings more rain to the big sur mtns and santa cruz mtns due to it having a more ssw flow which means better orographic enhancement over the central coast range and sierra. And then the second storm bringing more wind then rain along the central coast due to the forecasted position of the surface low off the Monterey bay. The position of that surface low could create damaging winds in the Salinas and santa clara valleys if the current models verify. But I’m very excited for those who live along the traverse range and valleys to the north of LA basin because of the configuration of the second storm, in which that configuration of having the surface low off the central coast and a strong southerly flow aimed at socal means potential for lots of heavy rain that area of socal.

    • craig matthews

      Commenting on my comment above. It sounds confusing to me. Sorry. We are still 5 days away from the second storm so models will obviously adjust and ideas will probably change.

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