California’s drought very unlikely to improve in short term; thoughts about the upcoming winter rainy season

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 31, 2014 1,132 Comments

Recent weather summary

The weather in California has been relatively uneventful over the past few weeks. Periodic thunderstorm activity has continued to affect mainly inland desert and mountain areas, mostly in the southern part of the state.

Hurricane Marie at peak intensity as a spectacular category five storm. (NOAA/NHC)

Hurricane Marie at peak intensity as a spectacular category five storm. (NOAA/NHC)

Hurricane Marie–once a formidable category five storm in the eastern Pacific ocean–brought pretty clouds (but also damaging surf conditions) to much of the state this past week. While there had been preliminary indications in forecast models that a substantial amount of Marie’s remnant moisture and perhaps even the storm’s former center of circulation might be steered toward California, perhaps bringing some rare summer rains, that solution has (obviously and unfortunately) not come to pass. Near-shore sea surface temperatures remain extremely warm, with buoys off the coast of the San Francisco Bay Area repeatedly registering all-time record high ocean temperatures. These very warm temperatures have resulted primarily from greatly reduced cool water upwelling near the California Current, which itself stems from suppressed northwesterly winds caused by persistent atmospheric ridging. It’s also possible that there has been some contribution by so-called “coastally-trapped” Kelvin waves, triggered by the massive equatorial Kelvin wave that occurred in the tropical Pacific earlier this year.

 

Drought update

I’ll keep this short: California’s still experiencing extreme, record-breaking drought conditions. Impacts continue to become more widely felt–and have recently started receiving considerably more media attention. Reservoir levels are still dropping rapidly, and will continue to do so for at least another 2-3 months.

The Drought Monitor continues to depict "exceptional" drought in California. (UNL/NOAA/USDA)

The Drought Monitor continues to depict “exceptional” drought in California. (UNL/NOAA/USDA)

While nearly all major reservoirs are still above the record-low levels set during the 1976-1977 and 1987-1992 droughts (largely due to water management decisions made this year), a number of reservoirs stand a good chance of dropping below these previous record lows during October/November 2014. The Drought Monitor, unsurprisingly, continues to suggest that a very large fraction of California is experiencing exceptional drought–the most intense categorization.

 

An update on the fire season

California’s wildfire season has thus far been very active–with numerous fires throughout most parts of the state. None of these, however, (with the major exception of the unusual San Diego area fires back in May) have been especially damaging to human infrastructure despite burning considerable forest/wildland acreage. Why has this been? Well, despite the fact that fuels are explosively dry in most areas due to the drought, there have been relatively few strong wind and/or dry lightning events thus far this dry season. One or both of these ingredients is typically needed for a really serious wildfire outbreak in California, even when the background fire risk is very high. In other words: we’ve gotten very lucky so far, given the state of the forests this year.

The seasonal cycle of wildfire occurrence in California lingers well into the fall months. (NICC/NIFC)

California’s wildfire season typically lingers well into the fall months. (NICC/NIFC)

It’s not clear that this luck will hold out until the rainy season starts, though. The late summer and fall months are “Santa Ana” season in California–in other words, the likelihood of extremely dry and strong offshore wind events increases dramatically during September-October. As “inside slider” low pressure systems plunge southward to the east of California over the Great Basin in the lead-up to winter, strong surface pressure gradients often develop during this period, bringing late-season offshore winds and heat waves near the coast. These offshore winds (and the subsequent suppression of the marine layer) is the primary reason why summer-like conditions in California linger for 1-2 months longer than in most other locations in North America. Thus, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet. Historically, many of California’s very large and damaging fire have occurred during Santa Ana season, and with drought-cured fuels the potential for dangerous fire conditions is still much enhanced until the arrival of wetting rains eventually this winter.

 

An update on El Niño

Reports of El Niño’s demise have been…greatly exaggerated. While Niño region sea surface temperatures (SSTs) did decrease notably in the wake of the big Kelvin wave earlier this year, they’re on the increase once again. A new Kelvin wave is currently propagating across the Pacific, and is expected to arrive along the shores of South America in a few weeks.

A new Kelvin wave is currently propagating eastward across the Pacific Ocean. (CPC/NOAA)

A new Kelvin wave is currently propagating eastward across the Pacific Ocean. (CPC/NOAA)

This wave is not nearly as strong as the one earlier this year, but it should be enough to formally establish El Niño-like SST anomalies by the fall months. Nearly all major dynamical and statistical model guidance still suggests the likely development of El Niño conditions by the fall, though a strong event now appears to be unlikely (most likely: weak to moderate strength). This does have implications for conditions in California, since historically only strong El Niños have consistently been linked to above-normal precipitation in the state (this is especially in the north, where much of the water storage capacity resides). Thus, it does not currently appear that a strong El Niño will bring drought relief to California this winter. On the other hand, as I’ll discuss further below, this does not necessarily mean that California is in for a dry winter.

 

A quick primer on the onset of the rainy season in California

Most readers who actually live in California are already very familiar with the fact that California has a very well-defined rainy season, typically encompassing the consecutive months from November to April (and sometimes as early as October and as late as May). While there is considerable variability from year to year, the existence of a pronounced seasonal cycle allows for the construction of a pretty reliable theoretical model for rainy season onset, which I’ve tried to capture in the composite maps (presented as animated GIF images) in this section.

As winter approaches, the "mean ridge" along the West Coast becomes more pronounced. (NOAA/PSD/ESRL)

As winter approaches, the “mean ridge” along the West Coast becomes more pronounced. (NOAA/PSD/ESRL)

The typical progression is as follows: the mean trough over the West Coast during the summer months gradually transitions into a mean relative ridge as the Northern Hemisphere storm tracks become active and deep mean troughs form to the west of California (in the Gulf of Alaska) and to the east (over interior North America). At the same time, upper-level westerly winds (i.e. the jet stream) begin to strengthen and shift southward over the North Pacific Ocean, eventually extending further east toward the West Coast as winter deepens.

As summer transitions into winter, the Pacific jet stream shifts southward and eastward. (NOAA/PSD/ESRL)

As summer transitions into winter, the Pacific jet stream shifts southward and eastward. (NOAA/PSD/ESRL)

These “average” conditions don’t tell the whole story, though, since these time-averaged values don’t show the occasional deep troughs and storm systems driven by the strong and eastward-extended Pacific jet stream that bring most of California’s cool-season precipitation. The seasonal cycle of precipitation shows this evolution more clearly, with precipitation increasing rapidly from north to south during October and November and peaking in most places sometime during January-March. The most remarkable part of the ongoing drought–and the associated “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” pattern–is that this well-defined seasonal cycle was completely disrupted. But that’s a story for an upcoming post…

Precipitation in California exhibits a well-defined seasonal cycle. (NOAA/NWS)

Precipitation in California exhibits a well-defined seasonal cycle. (NOAA/NWS)

 

What can we say about the coming winter? Is drought relief on the horizon?

As I noted above: a strong El Niño–which might have been a meaningful predictor for a wet winter to come–now appears very unlikely. But why, exactly, is El Niño so important in the first place? As I’ve previously discussed, El Niño affects California weather in several direct and indirect ways, but the primary mechanism during the cool season arises from the re-arrangement of of SSTs in the Pacific Oceans and subsequents effects upon the storm track. Because it’s the spatial patterns of ocean temperatures–the actual distribution of warm vs. cool conditions–which can affect large-scale atmospheric conditions by reorganizing atmospheric temperature differences, it’s worth looking at expected pattern of SST anomalies for the coming winter. Others have recently noted that the current phase Pacific Decadal Oscillation–which has been negative for most of the past 15 years or so–has recently flipped into positive territory.

An unusual configuration of positive SST anomalies exists across the entire North Pacific Ocean. (NOAA/PSD/ESRL)

An unusual configuration of positive SST anomalies exists across the entire North Pacific Ocean. (NOAA/PSD/ESRL)

The spatial patterns of SST that define the positive phase of the PDO are generally favorable for increased cool-season precipitation in California. A number of dynamical forecast models suggests a continuation of +PDO conditions through the heart of the upcoming wet season. This does not, however, necessarily mean that California is in for a wet winter. First: despite the current +PDO signal, SST patterns in the North Pacific are pretty unusual from a historical perspective: the big “blob” of very warm water in the far northeastern Pacific remains, and is expected to decrease rather slowly over the next few months. The entire North Pacific is currently quite warm, which means that atmospheric “teleconnections” may be different from those that have been observed historically during +PDO years. Second, there are some indications that the still-developing weak-to-moderate El Niño could turn out to be a mid-Pacific centered event (a so-called “El Niño Modoki”), which might act to enhance the storm track well to the west of California, rather than closer to the coast (where it would be more likely to enhance precipitation).

What do the dynamical models say? Well, I preface the following discussion with a big caveat: seasonal climate prediction is still subject to very large uncertainties, and in many locations is not much better than a random guess based on historical average conditions (in technical terms, these forecasts often have “little to no skill relative to climatology”). Indeed: it turns out that few dynamical models make skillful precipitation projections during California’s “wing seasons”–that is, during the fall and spring months, which are the seasons during which precipitation varies the most from year to year.

The GFDL model depicts very dry conditions during the heart of the upcoming rainy season. (NOAA/CPC/NMME)

The GFDL model depicts very dry conditions during the heart of the upcoming rainy season. (NOAA/CPC/NMME)

The CFS model depicts very wet conditions during the heart of the upcoming rainy season. (NOAA/CPC/NMME)

Most models do have modest skill during the “core” wet months, though, from January through March. None of the major dynamical models are currently projecting a wet fall, so it appears that the likeliest outcome for the early part of the rainy season is near or below average precipitation. Later this winter, however, all bets are off. Some of the most skillful dynamical models have been hinting at the possibility of a rather wet period during January and February, which appears to be a response to the +PDO-like SST configuration in the Pacific. What’s interesting, though, is that while a handful of models are suggesting very wet conditions during the core months of the rainy season, others are projecting exactly the opposite: unusually dry conditions during January-March. Given the relatively low forecast skill exhibited by all of these models, it’s not clear which of these outcomes is more likely given the complex evolution of events in the Pacific Ocean over the past couple of years and the potentially competing influences of a +PDO signal and El Niño Modoki-like SSTs.

What’s the overall message here? Right now, there aren’t any clear precipitation signals for the upcoming winter. However, it does appear that near or below-average precipitation is the most likely outcome for the fall months, while there are nearly equal chances of above or below normal precipitation later this winter. Because there is no obvious drought relief on the horizon, it would be wise to prepare for another dry year. Stay tuned.

© 2014 WEATHER WEST

 

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  • Zepp

    Another afternoon of helicopters and sirens. No sign of smoke, but I’m told that there has been a massive glacial slide on the east-facing slope of Mount Shasta. It’s an unsettled area, so it’s unlikely that there are casualties, or human property damage.

  • Mark

    Interesting time lapse from the Heavenly cam of a smoke “haboob” moving over the Tahoe Basin this afternoon

    http://www.skiheavenly.com/video-and-interactive/web-cams.aspx

  • Utrex

    Special Statement

    Statement as of 6:34 PM PDT on September 20, 2014

    The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a

    Significant weather advisory for… east central Sacramento County in central California west central Calaveras County in central California southwestern Amador County in central California northeastern San Joaquin County in central California extreme north central Stanislaus County in central California

    Until 730 PM PDT

    At 630 PM PDT…National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated a cluster of thunderstorms along a line extending from Springfield to Copper Cove Village to Hodson to Milton to 8 miles west of Milton..and moving northwest at 15 mph. Brief heavy rain and lightning will be possible

  • Kamau40

    Big blow up of thunderstorms, based on latest Satellite pictures just east of the Bay Area and it looks like the circulation of clouds is moving westward. I see some nice convective activity or cumulonimbus clouds towards the Mt. Diablo range. We just may see some activity here sometime in the next few hrs. which could be an interesting night! Dan Swain has also just tweeted the latest developing activity.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Did you get any rain in your area tonight from the thunderstorm activity?

      • Kamau40

        No. Much of the action was E and NE of us. Earlier, it looked like everything was coming this way, but all of the activity had dissipated before getting here. So once again, here in Sonoma county we missed all of the action. By the way, since my family and I will not be camping in Oregon this time, we are coming down to your area and my old hometown, Disneyland, for a couple of days this week instead.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          It has been really nice here in inland orange County the last couple of days with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the 60’s, compared to the oppressive heat we were having last week with highs near 100 and lows in the low 70’s.
          It is forecast to warm up some next week with highs in the mid-upper 80’s, possibly getting into the low 90’s Wednesday, before cooling down to the low-mid 80’s for Friday and in the upper 70’s to low 80’s by next Saturday if the forecast verifies.

  • A somewhat unexpected cluster of strong thunderstorms has developed over the Sierra foothills and is moving rapidly toward the Central Valley. These may continue westward all the way toward the Bay Area later this evening. Lightning, gusty winds, and briefly heavy downpours are possible. New wildfire starts are also a possibility.

  • Kamau40

    Just seen a couple of lightning flashes just E. of the Nor. Cal area.

    • craig matthews

      San Francisco morning AFD said there was a strike in far northern Napa Valley last night.

      • Kamau40

        Yes, I read the same report.

  • Flash flood warning in Siskiyou County due to the collapse one of the remaining glaciers on Mt. Shasta!!! Now that is a drought impact you don’t see very often in California…

    • redlands

      very interesting

    • Zepp

      For those familiar with the area, the flow of mud, water and debris came down Pilgrim Creek and Mud Creek, taking out the Pilgrim Bridge (that annoyed me: far away from lights but easily accessible by car, it was a good spot for skygazing). The debris flow has self-dammed above State Highway 89, and presents a hazard to that route until at least late this afternoon.

      We’re worried about the south-facing glacier. The largest of the glaciers on the mountain, it is no a very dingy, dark grey, barely discernible from the surrounding volcanic scree. Each year it goes through a build-and-melt process, and the particulates from forest fires and us accumulate, sinking into the glacier with each melt cycle. The result is that the further down into the glacier, the darker the ice. And it’s now the smallest its been in centuries–and, being dark, is absorbing more heat from our unusually warm, sunny weather. It cut loose once before, in the 1930s, and took out a quarter of the town. The good news is they never rebuilt over that flood zone. The bad news is there are several routes it can take, depending where on the glacier the break occurs. I’m safe where I am, but the town area may not be.

      • raindog

        Haven’t been to that spot in years. That is very sad. Loved that place.

    • Cachagua1

      Was just up around Mt Shasta near McCloud and points east a month ago. Never seen that mountain so barren. I was up there in June 2011, and there was still snow right above McCloud up near a ski resort. What a difference a few years can make. Wow.

  • Brett

    Deafening thunder and heavy downpour here in Folsom. Love it! Though, the rain smells like forest fire smoke.

    • xeren

      Any chance some of that fell on the king fire? (I’m not sure how heavy rain has to be to put out a forest fire though)

  • rob b

    The Lake Tahoe Ironman has been canceled due to very unhealthy air in the Tahoe/Truckee area. Sounds like the organizers and emergency officials debated all night what was best. Feel sorry for all the competitors and their support teams/families but this sounds like it was the correct decsion.

  • Utrex

    Wow was that a night!! I observed lightning strikes all around me as thunderstorms started forming around the valley. Luckily where I am no thunderstorms passed by but we did have a dissipating storm rain over us.

    What was unbelievably breathtaking this early morning was that a storm formed right next to where I am. It was a larger and slightly stronger than usual. As a result, I got to see an up-close view at some really pretty lightning bolts. I saw these bolts of lightning just streaking across the sky for like 10 minutes. The thunder that came from them shook the ground slightly… The storm dissipated before hitting us. In fact this was the first time I ever observed up-close lightning bolts for so long.

  • lightning10

    The 6Z has a real treat cold lovers towards the end of the run!

  • raindog

    Hello, hello. Long time fan. First time poster. Between this and Jan Null I have learned a lot from you. So, I live in a small town that will remain nameless(sorry) in the far northern Sierra. This year I have noticed the thunderstorms that have developed during the afternoons appear to be drifting westward more often then not. And we typically get more thunderstorms east of the sierra crest, this year they have been developing further west, and sometimes just above the foothills, and then they track out into the Sacramento Valley. During a more typical mid or late summer day up here when there are afternoon thunderstorms, these thunderstorms tend to develop along the crest, then they drift eastward in the latter afternoon. And that is when my little town gets its afternoon hammering of lightning and heavy rain and sometimes hail. So, I understand there are other posters here from the sierra, and I am wondering if anyone else has noticed this too.

    • Ian Alan

      San Bernardino mountains here and the EXACT pattern occurred here this summer, exactly. Residents of big bear could tell you, they haven’t had half of their usual summer precip whereas here on the coastal/west side of the crest I’ve recorded 10 days of rain since July and normally we are lucky to get one or two while big bear and the desert slopes are hammered day in and day out.

      • raindog

        You near Arrowhead? How are the ponderosa pines doing up there? I fought a nasty wildfire in that area in late 2003 and there were a lot of dead pines up on top that ridge above San Bernardino from a beetle kill back then.

        • Ian Alan

          I’m in Running Springs a little higher up. Between the bark beetle, the 03, the 07 fire and general human encroachment these forests are devastated. On a small scale meaning like a day hike, going fishing and enjoying the fact that my neghborhood is a forest it’s great and a very beautiful sight to wake up to every day. Zoom out and look at the forest as a whole and it’s certainly shrinking and I personally get the feeling that it is dying. The forest is no longer connected between the lake arrowhead and running springs / big bear area, the 07 fire made sure of that. It’s noticeable when driving the 18 there is an area around “heaps peak” that had to be clear cut from burnt trees so it’s desolate except for brush and grass and on one side is the high desert and the valley on the other. Too many dry years since the fires allow for little to no recovery and I know that natural reforestation after wildfires is a multidecadal process but 11 and 7 years later and the process hasn’t begun. It will take many wet years in a row for these forests to start growing again rather than sitting in stasis.

          San Gorgonio wilderness is a gem though, get back in there above 9k and it’s just like being back in the high Sierra….

          Sidetracked there, to answer your question the existing trees are holding tight but there is is some spotty dead trees that pepper the landscape and whether that’s from drought or beetles I couldnt tell….the suddenness of certain trees becoming completely brown and dead tell me it’s beetles.

          Here’s to hoping for some wet years!

          • raindog

            That is sickening. I suppose many years of drought and some acid rain thrown in to the mix would weaken the cambium, and also reduce the amount of sap a pine could produce to fight the beetles attack. This has happened up where I live, but not nearly as bad as what sounds like has happened where you live. Right now, all our black oaks have turned red. I have never seen this happen. Usually they turn a brilliant yellow around mid October. So I figure must be lack of groundwater. What else could it be? The aspens appear to be looking ok. Some are starting to turn yellow but that’s normal for higher up. I am at around 5500ft. Last winter we only had 4 inches of snow. In 2010-11 we had over 15 feet of snow.

          • Ian Alan

            I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago about the Black Oaks in my area as well, in fact I attached a picture to show how the change is anything but typical. Our black oaks are simply spotted with dead leaves, not red, just dead brown. I’m at 6250′ and a good 20% of the trees have ‘browned’ but if you go lower closer to 5000′ some trees are 90% dead leaves. Tourists probably think fall is here in the mountains but this is not the beautiful yellowing to orange/red etc, just crispy dead leaves that cling to the branches rather than fall off. I’m also thinking groundwater issue and a survival tactic of the trees, shed the leaves and go into ‘hibernation’ early.
            Sounds like we faired a little better in the snow dept. I had about 3 feet of snow last winter, never more than 8″ on the ground, our average is 12 feet and half of that usually comes in 3 good storms.

          • Bandini

            Do you mean Running Springs CA receives 12 feet of snow per year on average?

          • Ian Alan

            I can’t for the life of me find historical data for this location to see long term averages, you can’t use big bear and you can’t use lake arrowhead or cedar glen observatory. The closest I suppose would be snow valley but the base is at 7100′. Running Springs varies in elevation from 5100′ to 6400′, I live at 6250′ on the west slope of a 6400′ peak. In the 7 winters I’ve lived here snowfall has ranged from 6 feet to 16 feet, excluding last years 3, with an average of 12 feet. some winters with less snow had more rain etc.

          • xeren

            Yeah, big bear is in the shadow of San gorgonio, so it gets much less snow – I think the wiki’s say snow summit in big bear gets about 100″ a year and snow valley in running springs gets 170″

          • Bandini

            Snow Valley at their summit of 7,841 reports 160 inches.

  • craig matthews

    One recent observation here is the jet stream appears to be much stronger, and further south near our latitude coming across the Western and Central North Pacific into the area where the RRR was located last winter. If this trend continues into the next 2 months, our chances for some good storms will be increased, especially latter October and November.

    • Ian Alan

      It feels like a LONG time since central/Southern California has had a solid October or November storm. It also seems like mid 90’s and prior it was kind of an expectation that October (besides Indian summer) would bring one good fall storm and November one or two strong early winter storms……

      Maybe it’s the horrible drought getting to me but that’s how it feels.

      • craig matthews

        Feels that way to me too. Seams like we use to always get atleast one good storm in October, then 2 or 3 in November. Last few Octobers/Novembers all we seamed to get were either inside sliders or cut off lows. Which brought scattered precip and nothing widespread. Nothing consolidated. I like the way things are starting to look out over the pacific, but its still so early in season to really tell if this trend means a wet fall. Right now it appears a deep trough is forming right under where the RRR sat last winter. Hopefully we will see a lot more of these troughs in that position in the coming weeks, to get the atmosphere’s memory to forget about Mr. RRR.

        • Xerophobe

          Here’s a run of previous 7 day average of 500mb height anomalies for DJF. These runs can be all over the place, Yet they seem to be more consistent with some kinda pattern like what is attached.

          • craig matthews

            Wow.

          • Kamau40

            Now that is the type of pattern we want us to see to put at least a substantial dent in the Ca. drought! Let’s hope these models are correct and verifies. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the CFS models are not perfect, but they have been very accurate in predicting the overall type of weather pattern about 2-3 months out.

          • craig matthews

            This CFS model has been fairly consistent most of the summer in predicting this wet pattern for California. Last year it flipped around from wet to dry a lot more. So hope this consistence really means something. I’d be a little more convinced if the Japanese model and Ausie models came in line with the CFS.

          • Kamau40

            Yes, I have noticed for the several several months now that the CFS have very consistently been predicting a very wet pattern for the West Coast. I have pointed this out from time to time on previous blogs and even Dan has noticed the consistency too. You are also right about the far less flip flopping compared to this time last year which I do remember quite well. Perhaps, the computer models are seeing a quite a bit of atmospheric weather pattern event episodes, especially during Jan/Feb continuing even into Mar ’15. I would not at all be surprised if this were to happen considering how incredibly dry last winter was.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Our last really wet Octobers came in 2004 and 2010, but I can’t remember the last time we had a really wet November.

        • Ian Alan

          That’s the same year as the dec 2010 deluge the last week…..I’m trying to recall if it was snow or rain up here in November and how much but it’s not coming to me….

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Here in Orange, October was a wet month, not so much extremely heavy rain but more of frequent steady light rain and rain showers. November had a moderate storm that brought around or just under an inch, and then of course December was the big month of that year. What was unusual is that Los Angeles hit 113 for its highest temperature on record in late September, and we turned wetter shortly after that heatwave.

          • craig matthews

            The last wet November you may have had was in 2002. Check this site: http://www.climatestations.com

      • Mike Stephenson

        I would love to see a nice convective cutoff low while the sun angle is still high!

  • thunderstorm98
  • Ian Alan

    12z is nuts with another major hurricane interacting with a low pressure coming down the coast, if I’m looking at that right – first time it’s shown this and I’m sure it’ll flip flop or drop the idea but it’s something to look at right now! LOL

    Interesting to see it suddenly want to take the track of Norbert and Odile…I think this would be the second named storm after Odile as I think the “P” (polo?) storm is shown dying a quick death out at sea and this would be the one after it…..

    • craig matthews

      The latest model trend has been for a slower and slightly deeper trough for later next week. If the trough is even more slower and deeper, it could pick up moisture from a tropical system if it happens to be in the right place. Haven’t seen the 18Z models yet, maybe they show something completely different and we are all wrong.

    • 12Z had another hurricane that affects AZ but not CA; gone in the 18z.

  • Bandini

    After a couple days in Monterey with overcast skies and some drizzle I was disgusted driving back up the 80 today. Between Auburn and Blue Canyon the smoke was absolutely brutal. It is hard to believe that one guy could be responsible for such an event. I hope they send him to Siberia and cut off his privates. I heard last night the smoke was the worst it has been yet and it is supposed to roll in thick again tonight through tomorrow with the winds driving from the west again. There was rain here but minimal and I doubt it did much if anything for fire aid.
    Coming back up the mountain and seeing that amount of smoke made me deeply sad this evening. We are going to need some type of miracle this winter.

  • Utrex

    Two possible scenarios possible this week…

    Gfs (less accurate model) showing, of course, a more progressive trough slamming into CA. The Gfs did the same for the closed low that generated the thunderstorms yesterday – it showed the trough just going eastward with a progressive pattern. Did it verify? Nope, Emcwf won this time!

    Emcwf (more accurate model) showing the trough slowing down, turning into a closed low (again), and repeating the event exactly the same as yesterday. Because there is a deep ridge to the east, it is again likely that Emcwf wins again and a closed low forms over CA. So we’ll be expecting more (possibly surprise) convection again like with what happened yesterday. But there’s one difference.

    This low is much more potent than the low yesterday, if the low were to close off (which it likely will), it would bring a widespread or even a likely chance of thunderstorms over NorCal and CenCal… More moisture, strength, and dynamics are with this low compared to yesterday’s.

    In the long term: still holding for a way above average precipitation fall season.

    • Hard to say still what will happen this week–though it looks likely that at least far NorCal will see wetting rains. There are currently no indications of a wetter-than-average fall, though. In fact, if anything, there are signals for a dry fall…

    • Kamau40

      The bottom line is that models are not perfect and they are not to be taken as actual forecasts, for example, such was the case yesterday. The EMCWF(European Models) saw it coming several days out whereas the GFS did not. In looking at the long term, want to remind you that know one ones what the weather pattern will be like past 7 days out.

    • Kamau40

      I also want to point out that as we now head into the Fall season, there will likely to be lots of model divergences, especially when the typhoon systems eventually start heating up again out in the Western Pacific.

    • craig matthews

      Each new run of the GFS has been a little slower and slightly deeper with the trough coming into the west coast later this week. In other words, right now it appears the GFS is slowly coming in line with the ECMWF. The struggle with the models appears to be the amplification of the ridge to the west of this incoming trough, in which may be associated with tropical activity rotating up toward Japan in the Western Pacific, or something.

    • Utrex

      By the way I personally think this fall will be wetter by far. Of course others have different opinions. Though signs that I think are important climatologically are pointing to a wet pattern.

      • C M

        I think the number of rainy days will be lower than average but the few systems we get might be strong (think of that big storm in October of 2009 from the remains of Typhoon Melor)! I also predict warmer than normal temperatures on days when it doesn’t rain. I also (wishful thinking) am going to throw in a widespread thunderstorm event or two as well.

  • These few troughs coming in are great and all but I am not convinced one bit that this means good rainfall this fall. Especially in the long range…

    • craig matthews

      It just nice to see some rather decent troughs anchored in the Gulf of Alaska extending southward in the eastern pacific, right where the RRR was last winter and the year before. And there has been more ridging northwest of Hawaii. If this pattern were to just stay right in the same place, as the polar jet gets stronger, it “could” mean wetter weather this fall. But then again, the pattern could revert right back to the way it was last winter. We probably wont really know till Christmas.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        It is hard to tell what will happen later this year, but the fact the pattern is more progressive than last year is a good sign I would think. If we are going to have a wetter than normal winter this year, I think the likelihood of the rains starting earlier this year is a good possibility given how dry it has been over the last two years. It seems that sometimes after an abnormally dry year like last year that the rainy season cranks up the following fall earlier than usual, but it doesn’t always happen that way, but it happens often enough to mention the possibility of it occurring.

  • Forgot the picture….

  • C M

    Hope this cut-off low (and possibly thunderstorms!) develops for later in this week for the Bay Area. Does this warmer than normal Pacific indicate a better chance of these cut-off low systems developing more frequently? Also is there a good chance we could have above normal rainfall for the fall and winter but a lower than normal snowpack due to more cut-off lows and atmospheric river events but fewer cold systems from the Gulf of Alaska. If we get a few strong systems like the one we got at the end of February of this year, yields could be good.

    It seems that the dew points throughout the summer have been higher than normal for the Bay Area with far less bone dry humidity/off shore events but consistently warmer than normal temperatures. Do you see those Santa Anas developing strongly in October or do you think the dewpoints will remain relatively high?

  • redlands

    Is Southern California gonna get any rain ???

    • Kamau40

      No. Based on all of the short range models(3-5 days), most of the weather activity this week will be concentrated in Nor Cal. There maybe some light shower activity that may make it as far south as Monterey county.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      It is still a bit too early to be thinking about rain in Socal unless it is the remnants of a tropical system that get pulled up from the south. I would expect to see something sometime in October, probably in between Santa Ana winds or just before the first Santa Ana of the season. I do think we are going to have some cooler weather later this week and into the weekend with a deeper marine layer, but no rain except for possibly a bit of drizzle.

      • lightning10

        I do remember during the La Nina 2000 or 2001 we had a day of 4000 foot marine layer in late September. We had heavy drizzle well into the valley that lasted most of the day. The ML turned hostile in the late afternoon and a few locations got a brief heavy downpour.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          A deep marine layer producing drizzle or light rain is certainly a possibility in late September and early October, as the jet stream begins to shift south with the changing seasons bringing storms closer to the area. This trough forecast for later in the week could be strong enough to deepen the marine layer to the point that it produces drizzle.

    • Nope. Not for the next 1-2 weeks, anyway.

  • mycoholic

    Any recommendations on sites for viewing the various models? I’ve been using ggweather.com for the GFS for a long time, but I’d really like to be able to see the long range forecasts (esp precip) for the other models (particularly the ECMWF). I’d be willing to pay so long as the subscription is reasonably priced… Suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks.

    • nor cal native
    • Bob G

      I was wondering the same thing. I searched the Web but couldn’t find anything

    • Utrex

      Twisterdata.com for the GFS and NAM. Also if you click on your area it brings up a skew-t and a hodograph.

      For the EMCWF I look at Unisys.

    • At some point in the next month or two, I’ll be re-vamping the links page to include a range of model access points (free options have improved quite a bit recently, though ECMWF data is still extremely spare without a prohibitively expensive subscription).

  • 1111 comments!! Impressive. I have decided to do a (very) short post late tonight regarding the season’s first soaking rain in parts of NorCal later this week. The big piece on the drought and the Triple R is still slated for the 29th.

    • Bob G

      I look forward to it unless you are going to tell us that the RRR is going to rebuild for the winter and we are going to be high and dry again, lol

      • Ian Alan

        I have a bottle of Jameson if that’s the case…..

  • xeren

    ugg, i wish joe bastardi would stop pretending to be a climate scientist and stick to his meteorology degree. his forecasts are becoming more and more rant-filled and less and less informative

    • redlands

      who is joe bastardi

      • Accuweather guy and climate change skeptic. But he must know what he’s talking about — after all, he has a college degree in meteorology… 😉

        • Sunchaser

          Probably why Accuweather never gets the weather correct anyways at least in my city…lol

  • Sunchaser

    JPL: Don’t Expect Drought Relief From El Niño

    This guy Patzert is he for real? He is about as bad as bastardi….

    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/09/22/jpl-dont-expect-drought-relief-from-el-nino/

  • Utrex

    1. GFS slowly agreeing with the EMCWF model each run.

    2. Jamstec model being released soon (1-4 days).

    • xeren

      What are they agreeing upon? I tried checking a couple nws sites but they always seem to be offline late at night and early in the morning, do they just shut down their servers or something??

      • Utrex

        A closed low forming over CA. GFS is still progressive showing the closed low quickly pushing east while the EMCWF shows the closed low sort of stationary over CA until shifting east again. Looks like the EMCWF will win again.

      • inclinejj

        That might just be the time the IT guys do work on the system.

        • xeren

          it’s pretty annoying to not have access to the information on those sites like 10% of the time. 90% uptime is a terrible record- only a govt agency can do that and not go out of business!

  • redlands

    Are we gonna have a wetter year

    • thunderstorm98

      I hope we do.

  • Atrocalypse

    I strongly wish this ridiculously resilient ridge would vanish.

  • The American Retard needs to tell the US Air Force to stop spraying chemtrails into our skies – that would stop “global warming” and drought. Truthmonger.info