California drought update; April showers in NorCal; and La Niña Looms

Filed in Uncategorized by on April 21, 2016 1,563 Comments

Drought update: how did California fare during 2015-2016 winter?

The Desert Southwest was unexpectedly dry this winter, and the Pacific Northwest unexpectedly wet. (West Wide Drought Tracker)

The Desert Southwest was unexpectedly dry this winter, and the Pacific Northwest unexpectedly wet. (West Wide Drought Tracker)

With the formerly powerful El Niño event now fading in the tropical Pacific and most of California’s traditional rainy season now behind us, it’s a good time to consider the modest drought relief that occurred in California this past winter. First, the good news: the northern half of California fared pretty well precipitation wise, with virtually all of the state from the Bay Area northward experiencing near or above average season-to-date precipitation. The northernmost portion of the state–where much of California’s water storage infrastructure resides–did particularly well, with many areas seeing more than 130-150% of the long term average. Sierra Nevada snowpack was a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from near average in the north to significantly below average in the south (though still far above last year’s record-low levels virtually everywhere). Statewide, snowpack ended up below the long-term average and is now melting rapidly–largely due to warm mountain temperatures which (yet again) persisted through the winter. Many short-term drought indicators have improved considerably in response to this precipitation, and many of California’s major reservoirs are actually in better shape than they have been in years.

California has yet again been much warmer than the long-term average in recent months. (West Wide Drought Tracker)

California has yet again been much warmer than the long-term average in recent months. (West Wide Drought Tracker)

But while NorCal precipitation this winter was enough to stabilize the long-term accumulated precipitation deficit, it didn’t really even make a dent in the still tremendous multi-year shortfall that has developed since 2012.

Further south, this past winter was even more disappointing. Outside of a few brief (but intense) bouts of storminess, the storm track largely stayed north of Los Angeles–bringing yet another very dry winter to the southern third of the state. To add insult to injury, very warm coastal temperatures have persisted through much of the winter. In fact, residents of coastal Southern California have now endured their third consecutive winter with temperatures higher than those during any other winter in living memory prior to 2014. Multi-year precipitation deficits actually increased during 2015-2016 in the Los Angeles area–a frustrating conclusion to a year that initially appeared quite likely to be wetter than average.

As I’ve previously discussed (and as Bob Henson recently explored in this piece), this year’s unusual precipitation pattern along the West Coast was almost exactly the opposite of what would have been expected based upon theoretical and empirical models for ENSO teleconnections–2015-2016 was very wet indeed in the Pacific Northwest, but very dry throughout the Desert Southwest. Interestingly, temperatures this winter were above average across virtually all of North America–which probably shouldn’t be too surprising, given the record-shattering global warmth in recent months. I’ll have another post in the future more closely considering the causes and implications of this unexpected ENSO evolution.

Winter temperatures in coastal Southern California have been far above any other year in living memory prior to 2014. (NOAA)

Winter temperatures in coastal Southern California have been far above any other year in living memory prior to 2014. (NOAA)

 

April showers in NorCal on Friday; more widespread next week

Current water vapor imagery from satellite showing incoming Pacific system (click to animate). (NOAA SSD)

Current water vapor imagery from satellite showing incoming Pacific system (click to animate). (NOAA SSD)

A fairly typical April pattern will take hold over the next 10 days across California, with occasional bouts of light to moderate precipitation. Tomorrow’s system will be aimed primarily at NorCal (generally from the Bay Area northward), but could drop a respectable amount of rain and mountain snow over the northern portion of the state. With the increasingly strong April sun, some thunderstorms will likely occur tomorrow–particularly in the Sacramento Valley, where a couple of isolated severe thunderstorms would not be out of the question. As is typical for the highly changeable conditions in spring, the medium range models suggest a continued potential for additional showery periods over the next 10 days or so. A system later next week stands a better chance at bringing precipitation to SoCal, though cut-off lows and inside slider-type systems are notoriously fickle and that forecast will likely bounce around quite a bit in the coming days. At a bare minimum, it does appear that all of California will likely see a reprieve from the record heat of recent days.

The NAM suggests some substantial precipitation accumulations north of San Francisco but virtually nothing in SoCal over the next few days. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

The NAM suggests some substantial precipitation accumulations north of San Francisco but virtually nothing in SoCal over the next few days. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

 

La Niña increasingly likely for 2016-2017 winter

I’ll start with the usual caveat that we’re still on the wrong side of the “Spring Predictability Barrier,” and that it’s hard to say anything with high confidence specifically regarding next winter at this early date. But at the moment, virtually all of the American and international dynamical models suggest a rather rapid transition toward La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean by late summer, with cool tropical anomalies likely persisting or intensifying through the autumn. Interestingly, however, these models are also in agreement that conditions outside of the tropical Pacific may remain remarkably warm though at least next autumn–particularly over the Northern Hemisphere continents and the Arctic.

The NMME shows extraordinary Northern Hemisphere warmth persisting despite development of La Nina conditions in tropical Pacific. (NOAA/CPC)

The NMME shows extraordinary Northern Hemisphere warmth persisting despite development of La Nina conditions in tropical Pacific. (NOAA/CPC)

What might this mean for California next winter? Well, La Niña in general is associated with an even wider range of outcomes than El Niño along the West Coast of North America. The strongest connection is to dry winters in Southern California (yes, yes, I know). Northern California has has historically experienced both very dry and very wet winters during La Niña, though the balance tips toward dry conditions on average. It’s worth noting that the atmospheric pattern most commonly with La Niña is a persistent ridge somewhere over the Pacific west of California–meaning that whether California sees a dry winter or not will likely depend on precisely how far east this ridge extends. The North American Multi-Model Ensemble is currently forecasting surprisingly warm ocean temperatures once again along the West Coast of North America despite cool tropical Pacific temperatures–which may suggest an increased likelihood of West Coast ridging next winter. We’ll know more in a few months, but preliminary indications do not favor drought relief during the 2016-2017 winter in California.

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  • low snow levels

    am now getting strong out flow winds from the T storms that are coming this way

  • mattzweck

    More cloud pics i took From the backyard here in Lancaster. dark Clouds coming from the west.

  • RSmofo

    Some rain and hail to wet things down here – waiting for all hell to break loose.

  • Bartshe

    Earlier today with Bloody, Laurel, Red Slate, Morrison, and others (peaks south of Mammoth). Mid-level build up continued all day:

    • Pfirman

      Great shot. Really great. I have been on Red Slate, but still never heard of the others. That is the Sierras for you. Tons of peaks.

  • low snow levels

    whats face it T-storms hates me the T storm went by too my N but has it was passing by i did see some lighting and some strong out flow winds but too tell you the ture i think T storms hate me this year for the past few events they go too my S or they go off too my N or they weak in be for they get here if there comeing down from the Mts

    • Thunderstorms hate me also. Don’t worry…

      • Pfirman

        I think they view the underline connector in your handle as a ground.

    • jjmoss

      It’s common knowledge that T-storms are huge sticklers for proper grammar and correct spelling. Maybe if you start using punctuation they will come.

      • low snow levels

        you been flag and reported dont talk about my spelling please this mind your own bees waxs thats how you can start a fight on here

        you guys never seem too learn this go on about your posting and dont be the spelling and grammar police other wise you are asking for major trouble

    • 310weatherguy

      Dont worry they hate L.A. too lol.

  • alanstorm

    Some brief pop-up rain showers manifested in Mendocino Co interior today

  • supercell1545

    Some storms are coming straight down the hill toward the Rocklin/Roseville area. Hopefully we get some more of the 2nd picture.

  • DelMarSD

    From Bensweather, regarding next weeks storm:

    “Things could get interesting again later in the week as another low pressure system approaches from the west, primary difference from this and our recent storms is its potential over water trajectory, not an inside slider; so we could have more moisture available for better potential of widespread rains and yes, maybe even some more snow, just in time for Mother’s Day weekend, right on schedule!”

    http://bensweather.com/

    • and

      • Thirsty Nick (Santa Maria)

        Whoa…looks like a wintry encore for SoCal.

        • That’s all up in the air. This may pick up more moisture but it’s still in the cut-off category

    • RSmofo

      It’s a common mountain saying that it always snows on Mother’s Day!

      • Pfirman

        Only if your mother dies I thought.

        • Zephyr (Crestline)

          And if she’s the Watch Commander.

      • Zephyr (Crestline)

        Yup, Ben and RSmofo are right. After 20 years here, I can attest that snow on Mother’s Day in our San Bernardino Mtns is far closer to a pattern than a unique event. Now if only we could get back to loading it up in Jan/Feb instead of having a second summer in those months, I’d gladly trade for that…

  • JMS

    Looks like Fresno is going to get some action. Thunderstorm building to the southeast. I heard a couple of rumbles,but didn’t see any lightning. We also have some pretty good clouds to the west and northwest.

    • Fish Farmer (Fresno)

      Raining at the house now, Guage at .04 already. Not much but a surprise non the less.

  • mattzweck

    Here are some Clouds pics i took evening. Lancaster looking east and some Clouds out west.

  • JMS

    Raining in Fresno. Great little down pour. Already starting to slow down, but it added some excitement to a Sunday.

  • Thunderstorm

    Who will get the HECTOR THUNDERSTORM later this week/ Hopefully not the Sacramento area again they’ve already exceeded their yearly total.

    • Hopefully me!

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Hopefully areas of Socal that haven’t seen much action over the past month or two.

    • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

      Van Nuys, CA.

      • Pfirman

        Who would name a town Van Nuys? Long Beach, sure, but of all the names in SoCal that is one weird one.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Van Nuys is actually part of the city of Los Angeles, as are many other nearby areas such as Reseda, Northridge, Woodland Hills, Encino, Tarzana, etc. It sounds as though it may have been named after somebody.

          • Pfirman

            I know, I was just yanking his chain. Lived in the LBC from fifth grade through high school.

        • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

          Van nuys was named after Isaac Newton Van nuys, one of the developers of the city founded in 1911.. It became annexed by Los Angeles in 1915 after the completion of the Los Angeles aqueduct.

          • Bombillo1

            After the destruction of Owens Valley? I’m surprised they don’t have his face on the $100 bill. BTW, I know you’re a good guy, just kind of provoking a bit here!

          • Pfirman

            Isaac Newton Van Nuys? Who knew? Now all I can think of is Fig Van.

      • Nate Wire

        Ok Tyler, you can have Hector, but the South Bay will get the Catatumbo Lightning.

  • JMS

    Fresno still going with showers and some squirrelly winds.

  • SoSoCal

    Bingo 🙂 San Diego NWS:
    LATEST DETERMINISTIC MODEL RUNS ARE IN PRETTY GOOD AGREEMENT REGARDING THE GENERAL PATTERN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE EASTERN PACIFIC. THE TIMING…TRAJECTORY AND ASSOCIATED WEATHER STILL REMAIN SOMEWHAT UNCERTAIN AS THE SYSTEM INTENSIFIES AND MOVES INLAND ACROSS CALIFORNIA…ALTHOUGH CONFIDENCE IS HIGH THAT IT WILL PRODUCE PERIODS OF GUSTY SW TO WEST WINDS AND PRECIPITATION FOR FRI THROUGH NEXT WEEKEND. TSTMS WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE OVER SOCAL IF THE COLD AIR ASSOCIATED WITH THE CLOSED UPPER LOW TAKES A FAVORABLE PATH.

    • DelMarSD

      I just saw that. Looking good so far. I think this one will be a big thunderstorm producer, and similar to the strong So Cal storm Mid-May last year.

  • Unbiased Observer

    Crazy wind here, gusts easily over 50 for a short time and a bit of rain .02″, has died down now….but another storm the NWS didn’t predict until the last minute. NWS Hanford is really underestimating this pattern.

    • Pfirman

      I don’t know if ‘storm’ is the right word for these phenomena, but ‘last minute’ sure is. Pronounce the ‘i’ long. Mynoot, not minnett.

  • RSmofo

    Well all hell did break loose yesterday afternoon but it had little to do with the weather and a lot to do with my wife’s lengthy Target receipt….

    A whopping .01″ to bring May in, maybe today’s 20% will do better than yesterday’s 30%!

    • DelMarSD

      Lol.

  • thebigweasel

    Very light drizzle here in Santa Barbara, night-and-morning low cloud stuff. The fog monster, in other words.

    • Barney

      Did you move south?

      • thebigweasel

        For the interim. My home remains Siskiyou County.

  • thebigweasel

    Also, this:

    Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa

    Week beginning on April 24, 2016: 407.79 ppm
    Weekly value from 1 year ago: 403.62 ppm
    Weekly value from 10 years ago: 384.74 ppm

    Last updated: May 2, 2016

    We’ve jumped 4ppm in just the past year.

    • http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html
      Temps have been shooting up since ~1980 CO2 has been relatively constant since 1960. Something else going on?

      • WanderingTattler

        CO2 has been relatively constant since 1960 ??? It has gone up about 60 ppm since 1980; 80 ppm since 1960.

      • thebigweasel

        CO2 levels were 317.58 PPM in 1960. Now they are 407.79. The only “constant” is that they have risen each year–and that rate is accelerating.

        • Yes but not on rocket fuel like temps are.

          • thebigweasel

            Well, that’s over the past two years, and much of that is related to El Nino conditions. Prior to that, land temperatures were at or only slightly above the previous high levels set during the 1997 El Nino. It’s only in the past few years that we’ve realized how much energy went into the oceans.

        • PrimeMover

          That’s why we have been saved by the Paris agreement.

          • thebigweasel

            Your optimism is…refreshing.

          • PrimeMover

            Thank you. I have learned to sleep comfortably at night knowing that the establishment is doing what’s best for the planet and for all of us. I just hope they don’t over do it and climate turns drastically cold.

          • SlashTurn (Santa Barbara)

            Ya the “establishment” really does care for our well being…ha.

          • thebigweasel

            Yeah, like “The Day After Tomorrow”, huh? You know, I’m surprised Daniel hasn’t based a paper on that yet…

          • PrimeMover

            I was talking about politicians not the scientific community. Big! HUGE DIFFERENCE.
            Politics always has a way of taking something good like say, “science” i.e. climate change
            and make an agreement only to find out later that it never worked because of the corruption and greed that politicians posses in their DNA.

            That’s my opinion. And I have a right to say it. I’m on your side. I live on this planet too and want what’s best.

            Hypocritical politicians flying around the globe in private jets preaching about carbon footprint, what was there carbon footprint from there trip to Paris? How many of them don’t go anywhere without the protection of a gun? How many of them have walls surrounding and protecting the property of which they reside?

            It’s do as i say ‘damnit’ not do as I do

          • WanderingTattler

            Here is an article on aircraft emissions, how they are expected to increase, and that this sector has no GHG regulations.

            http://www.c2es.org/federal/executive/epa/reducing-aircraft-carbon-emissions

      • jstrahl

        Constant CO2? Hou you figure?

    • Bombillo1

      Weasel,

      I don’t know why, but it really struck me when reading that essentially all earth cooling events in the past (barring asteroid impact or volcano eruption, or axis shift) were accomplished by lowering CO2 concentrations. Heating, of course, in geological time scale, was also achieved by raising CO2s. This is all so in your face straight forward that I do not understand the vitriol about it. Having said that, the numbers you just quoted are indescribably important for where we are and the rate at which we are getting there. We are like the Easter Islanders, sawing the last tree down and maybe then wondering how much longer things will be manageable.

  • Barney

    Alright alright alright

    • AlTahoe

      It looks like this may be the last sunshine we have for a while. Better take a picture to remember what it looks like come Sunday

      • matt (truckee)

        Boo. Hiss.

        That said – on the bike as soon as it warms up a bit more.

    • Reeks of another nice cut-off. I like it. Do you get different snow to liquid ratios from these type of systems in spring? T’s are going to be below this week, too. Have fun!

      • thebigweasel

        Snow elevations will certainly be higher, and that will change the ratio. I haven’t seen associated temps, but I would be surprised if there was any snow at all below 6,000 feet in the north and 8,000 in the south.

        • inclinejj

          All this snow is money, aka water in the bank. High elevation snow that will continue to melt into late summer!

  • RSmofo

    Very monsoon like morning.

    Still sideways after photo compress – lame… Oh well.

    • RSmofo

      Redemption photo LOL

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    There are some buildups over the San Gabriel mountains this morning due to some leftover cold air aloft.. Not a great view, but you can see the clouds from behind the city buildings..

    • RSmofo

      Very dark out, I’d venture to guess today’s a better day for rain than yesterday was…

  • inclinejj

    All these full lakes and rivers make for happy fish. I can’t wait for the water temperature in the American River to rise a bit. Almost time for SHAD!!!!

    • Someone else

      The Thank You Carp sends its regards!

  • DelMarSD

    Only 11 and there are already showers popping up over the San Bernardino’s. Maybe today will be even more active than yesterday up there.

    • RSmofo

      Underbellies are looking ripe!

  • RSmofo

    Aaannnnd the skies opened up! Hallelujah!!!!!

    Yesterday should have been 20% and today 30% LOL

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    Well I feel humbled from losing my bet on rainfall totals.. I am now the blog dunce for week. I was reminded how unpredictable weather can be (especially during spring). It’s not too surprising that SoCal got jacked for rain again in the valleys and basin/coasts. I really liked my new avatar too!! ? Hopefully we can call this late season May storm set to arrive in CA in a few days
    “the SoCal redemption storm” 😉 hopefully my luck catches up with me this week and Mother Nature surprises me with the “Hector T-storm” in Van Nuys.

    • You have 25 more minutes!

      • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

        Hahahah good one!! 😉 I was actually gonna wait until noon (even though I knew I wasn’t going to get anything), but then I changed my mind and switched avatars early cuz I already feel like such a dunce with a whopping 0.00 in my rain bucket for the entire week! LOL!

        • Change your avatar to whatever you want Tyler. I was hoping to lose. I was going to be Yanet.

    • RSmofo

      Simple solution: more mushrooms. ?

    • Bombillo1

      Nice lid.

      • SteveBloom

        Needs to be kayak-shaped, and in this age of photo processing software it could be!

        • Bombillo1

          Yeah, a Kayak. Kind of like him wearing a scarlet letter, rub your nose in it thing.

  • matt (truckee)

    Took a quick ride out to Prosser Reservoir this morning (pics attached). Not what I expected to see. Visual proof that this year was not the drought-buster we were hoping for.

    • Charlie B

      Prosser is at 30% of capacity, Boca a bit over 60% and Stampede 35%. Makes me glad someone didn’t buy me a boat for my birthday. (Actually, I guess I could always sell a boat on Craigslist if anyone wants to give me a belated gift….)

      • AlTahoe

        I have been wanting to get a jet ski for the last three years but the boat ramp down the street from me has been closed. It is not going to be open this year either as Tahoe is still a long way away from it’s 3.5′ above the Rim average height. We did at least make it over the rim this year but that doesn’t even get the water the boat docks here on the south shore. Maybe next winter.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      I am surprised Processor is so low, I am not sure how those 3 lakes work in filling wise (which is first etc). I haven’t heard yet if Donner will be at full capacity yet or not, hoping it is so we can have a semi normal boating season on it again.

      • matt (truckee)

        I do not think that Prosser has any connection to Boca/Stampede. Not 100% sure, but I think that Prosser Creek gets fed by Independence Lake.

        • Charlie B

          Correct. Water from Prosser enters the Truckee just upstream from where Boca water enters. They both end up watering my lawn and I am grateful to Californians for that… (Small eco-friendly lawn of course.)

    • Bombillo1

      We had a decent winter from a rainfall perspective but our seasonal creeks are now starting to peter out, very early. Such a deficit from previous years is really working against us. Also, the pinche spring rain (no real L’s since March 24th) is now coming home. Prosser is going to be downright ugly by next October. All eyes to the 16-17 winter that does not have an all time record El Nino tail wind. This will be when we find out there is enough water in this state for only about 20 million and we have to draw straws for re-location. Christmas Islanders are already having to leave.

  • SoCal Al (El Monte-SGV)

    What the……..? We were all wishing for a strong trough of low pressure to develop “offshore” and then spin into a slow-moving cold cut-off low (-25C) that moves right over us. But, I’m not seeing any favorable POPs (20-30%) or rain amounts and we’re only 3-days out. What are the experts saying? Is it because of the PW’s (.50-.75)? What gives? Anyone (CHeden) or others want to give their expertise?

    • It’s a cut-off. They are not attached to the jet stream.

      • SoCal Al (El Monte-SGV)

        Yes, that’s understood, but all the NWS offices (San Diego, Hanford, Monterey and Oxnard) agree with the evolution and path of the cut-off. Would have thought being 3-days out they would be more specific, or maybe they don’t want to go out-on-the-limb again after so many misses for us in SoCal over the last few years.

        • RSmofo

          It’s slow moving, it’s a multi day event, there is no current defined frontal passage aka showery in nature. Hence low pops until day to day details can get hammered out each day….

          What’s not to get?

        • I think the best that can be done with the type of cut-offs that have been coming in unfortunately are a broad brush.

  • Bombillo1

    I agree with SoCal Al. I am looking at the rainbow and this thing is getting seriously attenuated. I do not understand why the land mass of California is so hydrophobic as nothing appears to pop, amplify or aggregate as it approaches the coast, but rather the opposite. I hope my pessimism is unwarranted but this does not appear to be coming together quite right.

    • That more or less describes the typical state of things in this part of the world–California is in a very unfavorable region for storm development or even maintenance of strength from an atmospheric dynamical perspective. We’ve seen a particularly strong bout of this in recent years, meaning we’ve become increasingly dependent on those relatively few storms that do make it though. I’ll talk a bit more about this over the summer…

      • honzik

        I was in Santa Barbara in the late 80s / early 90s during a 6 year drought, and was always amazed by the storms (looking like the one just off our shores below) that would simply stall and then die out by the time they hit shore.

        I’d still like to know why this pattern disappears for the classic El Nino years (like ’83 or ’98) and amplifies during droughts.

        http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/htdocs_dyn_server/PUBLIC/nexsat/thumbs/region_size/NE_Pacific/Overview/vis_ir_background/goes/20160502.2030.goes_15.visir.bckgr.NE_Pacific_Overview.DAY.jpg

      • palmsprings

        Thanks Daniel, was always interested in learning more about the reasons behind the lack of storm development in CA and “dry” fronts.

      • Bombillo1

        Daniel,

        This is the vexation that we here wrestle with. Our “unfavorable” location for storm development does not appear to be water temperature dependent as we have just been through a very warm episode (to even include a blob) and then swings to cold that make no appreciable difference to our hydrophobia. From a atmospheric dynamics perspective, what is the principle culprit?

      • jstrahl

        Thanks, Daniel, looking forward to these articles. Is this a shift from what you expressed in your previous article about the paper a group you were a part of got published in a journal, namely that conditions which favor wetter-than-average years have not become less frequent?

    • SoCal Al (El Monte-SGV)

      Looking at the latest water vapor satellite image it looks to be developing quite nicely off to our W-SW. No high pressure ridge to interfere, no dry offshore flow, offshore SST’s running in the mid-upper 60’s……what could go wrong? Guess that’s why I’m simply a novice and amature at weather forecasting….lol.

  • I can see the cumulus over Mt Hamilton, but this image has no power lines. hehe

  • alanstorm

    6 day precip map: would that be snow for the high Sierras?? In May??

    • matt (truckee)

      I have seen it snow at higher elevations in July, so May is not surprising.

      • AlTahoe

        I drove through Thunder snow last May over Echo summit and I think Barney ran into some on Mount Rose. We usually get our last sticking snow storm at lake level sometime during May.

        • Barney

          Funny you say that. I’m actually heading up to Mt Rose summit on both Friday and Saturday to do some back country turns and the forecast looks similar to one of my days last year; thunder snow.

          Are you scouting out Tallac yet?

          • AlTahoe

            I did Tallac in February during our snow drought. I am in Mountain bike mode now 🙂
            I have some friends with sleds and might join them once they decide to hit up the Sonora pass area for a few more turns this season

      • Charlie B

        In May, 1964, Twin Lakes (near Kirkwood) logged 71 inches of snow. That’s the highest I can quickly locate.

    • Thirsty Nick (Santa Maria)

      Looks better than last week. Let it rain!

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    Reccuring build-ups in the western SFV.. On the verge of being “fair weather cumulus” to “rain showers”.. They build, then die, and then build again.. So far no precipitation and it’s looking less impressive now than it was an hour ago.. I think the weak ridge is winning over and finally pushing out the colder air aloft that had lagged behind from the departing trough.. Atmosphere seems to be stabilizing now, I think what ever showers are left in SoCal over the mountains will begin to wrap up soon and that will be it until Thursday.

  • Very warm in Sacramento…

    • tomocean

      I was wondering why I was so de-hydrated after my run.

    • Charlie B

      3% humidity? As they say, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

    • supercell1545

      Oh man that’s even hotter than I am after a haircut 😉

    • Barney

      SPF 80 should do the trick.

  • alanstorm

    Rain chances bumped up to 70% & 90% for Thurs-Fri for Willits, Mendo Co.
    Happy days for mosquitos & flowers!

    • weatherhead

      Must all be going over to your side. Coast has dropped down to 20-10%. Glad for you, though. It gets so hot there in summer, you will need all the moisture you can store.

  • RSmofo

    Rain in Lake Arrowhead too…

  • Any chance of Thunderstorms here around This weekend?

    • Bombillo1

      Not much of a chance. I have it on good authority that we are “in a very unfavorable region for storm development”. Can’t get much clearer, unfortunately.

      • DelMarSD

        Didn’t you receive something like 70 inches of precipitation this season?

        • Bombillo1

          Yes we did! That is exactly at average for us and I am darn grateful. However, it has been very dry for the past 5 weeks which we would normally expect to pick up another 10 inches. Instead, we received a reluctant 1.6 or so. With our timber it freaks me out to have the spigot shut off like this because Sept and Oct will be frightful and all could be lost in an instant. Damocles sword is never far away.

          • DelMarSD

            You think a dry 5 weeks is bad? Try 5 years.

          • Pfirman

            It’s the pits when Bombillo1 doesn’t get expected rain because his river, the Pit, is the major tributary to Shasta Lake. But what he said is the theme this year for most….happy for average.

          • Bombillo1

            I know. We had the same up here. Not an “average” rainfall year since 2010 albeit from a higher base level. It has been proportionately ugly for everyone except this year where Los Angeles and Central Cal had abysmal rain totals, again.

          • DelMarSD

            San Diego has received average precipitation this year (July through now). For that I’m grateful. We’ve done a lot better in SD county than SB, LA, and much of the central coast. It’s been weighted oddly, though. Very little from the beginning of February until now.

          • Bombillo1

            I pay close attention to rain in the S.D area. Grew up and spent the first 35 years of my life there. Even though we had a house closer to the coast, my dad had a ranch in Dehesa Valley. We had a lake (pond) there that would go dry on these periodic droughts and we would watch everything die. It is one of the reasons I came here. I do miss the ocean, more than I can express.

          • jstrahl

            Finished April with 1.60 inches in central Berkeley, 1.73 is the approximate average i extrapolated from historical Berkeley results, taking 10/11 of the 1.91 inches average for the UC station from 1950 to 1980.

    • Thunderstorm

      Wrap around moisture coming over the Hamilton Range might just give the needed lift.

  • Barney

    Shralping Rose in thunder snow in the coming days… Where is Cantori?

    There he is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzclOi3lGE4

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    The ECMWF has been consistent in showing an overall better storm for later this week as opposed to the GFS solution.. A tad bit of a sharper and stronger ridge and a deeper west coast trough, with better placement of the cold core low and associated moisture (especially SoCal). The sharper ridge the EC portrays should pull a little more colder air down versus the GFS solution, which is great for destabilizing our atmosphere; also making the cut-off low a bit slower I believe (stalling longer). They are both however in agreement with the overall upper-level Atmopsheric set-up.

    The PWATS won’t be that impressive by any means, but the pool of cold air aloft settling across the state, combined with the high spring sun angle and any surface heating that occurs.. Will make for a stretch of unsettled weather in CA (SoCal included!! ;)) should be a great widespread T-storm event, with pretty much everyone having a decent chance seeing at least a shower before its all said and done.. The inland empire is probably going to really get lit up by T-storms big time with this one! 😉

    • jstrahl

      Nice to see this. Of course, this is 2016. If one model shows dry and the other or even two wet, the overwhelming result has been that the dry one wins, whichever it may be. I’m beginning to doubt i’ll ever see another wet year in California.

      • RandomTreeInSB

        Are u for reals, Jstrahl?? That is the last thing I expected to hear from you…… 🙂

        • jstrahl

          Well, you heard it. The strongest El Nino on record was capable of delivering to California nothing more than a slightly above average wet season, if that (not even that for SoCal).

      • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

        There’s certainly more wet years to come, but droughts will always come and go too and will only worsen with time really.. The evidence is already here that weather is more extreme in this day of age versus just 50-100 years ago. The pendulum is only going to swing harder both ways. The increased global record temps doesn’t help either way.. We need to do what we can now so we can make a better future and cut-down massively in carbon emissions worldwide ofc and also learn to adapt to our already changing climate.

        • jstrahl

          They’ve been denying science of a couple of decades, some of them still do to this day. Yes, we need to adapt. But i can no longer rule out that it’s too late to avoid a n extreme catastrophe.

      • Bombillo1

        “California is in a very unfavorable region for storm development or even
        maintenance of strength from an atmospheric dynamical perspective.
        We’ve seen a particularly strong bout of this in recent years, meaning
        we’ve become increasingly dependent on those relatively few storms that
        do make it though.”

        Daniel is calling this a strong bout but I think all of us have to wonder, if we are experiencing genuine climate change, we might be simply looking at the new regime. Are we really ready for this?

        • jstrahl

          Simple answer: no. Most people think this is just a phase.

          • Admode (Susanville)

            Conifers seem to be being “phased” out in the central and southern sierras:(

          • Bombillo1

            This is, of course, very hard evidence of climate change. Species die offs are hard to deny. My insurance agent (out of Orange County) said that there are massive conifer die-offs in Idyllwild and Big Bear. Going on in many more locations I’m sure, but he was noting that his insureds in those areas are in a box of kindling.

          • RSmofo

            I have yet to see any new widespread die offs in the San Bernardinos in the last two years.

          • Bombillo1

            Then the conifers there weathered the past 5 years without excessive suffering? Here, about 80 mi south of the Oregon boarder, the White Firs took a beating and PG&E is furiously removing them from all the high tension line right of ways. The pines and Doug Firs have also been stressed to the limits. Perhaps the conifers in the San Bernardinos are a bit more enured to these things as they encounter it more often? Maybe because they are mainlining higher CO2 concentrations and are more bulked up? Seriously, it could be they have selected for more atmospheric stress.

          • Admode (Susanville)

            Here is an interesting article on a term that’s new to me “assisted migration” to mitigate tree species that are being forced out of their natural ranges due to climate change. This article is about Torrey Pines: http://nautil.us/blog/should-we-all-be-helping-trees-relocate

          • Admode (Susanville)

            Yeah, the best answer for that is “just wait.” It’s going to be a long summer.

          • Admode (Susanville)

            Here is a visual that may explain why you haven’t seen die offs yet. You live in a more drought tolerant area compared to the sierras.

          • Nathan

            Well, some of those areas in SoCal are certainly drought tolerant, but not _desert_ tolerant. I think the pine forests of SoCal are not long for this world, sadly.

          • Admode (Susanville)

            Hopefully the pines in the sierras aren’t not long for this world as well.

          • Admode (Susanville)

            Word. Our ranger was trying to recruit people to go to the stanislaus to help mitigate the die off by falling trees. The situation is unprecedented, and certainly seems like a transition from conifers (typically higher elevation species) to broadleafs (typically lower). It’s almost as if the higher elevations are getting too warm to sustain conifers. Weird, right?

      • Mike Stephenson(Riverside)

        It’s coming at some point! Even drought periods can be punctuated by flood years.

        • jstrahl

          That’s at least been the past. Is that any guide for the future? Only the future knows.

          • Pfirman

            Sounds like you could use a pep talk. I’ll be in Alameda today for an appointment at 11:00am. Late lunch in Berkeley?

          • Crank Tango

            Drinks at Forbidden Island!

          • jstrahl

            Busy day, unfortunately. And thanks, i’ll be OK.:-)

      • Charlie B

        Without dreams life is dull.

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    00z GFS just came in wetter with the storm this week!!! ??? it shows clearly a shortwave trough barreling down the entire coast on Saturday/Sunday; reinforcing showers and T-storms across the region.. Probably a decent vort lobe associated with the shortwave energy too. as well as perfect placement of the cold core low as it moves into SoCal on Friday! That piece of energy looks pretty potent on Saturday/Sunday for the whole state!

    • DelMarSD

      This will surely be the strongest storm to hit So Cal in a couple of months. SD NWS now says the PWATs will be .65 to .85, which is more than what they were saying before (.5 to .75)

    • Beautiful words.

    • Bombillo1

      Tyler,

      WU does not have more than a few hundredths of an inch of rain from Big Bend, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara to Los Angeles at any time for the next 10 days. Are they just not picking up on this and need to borrow your hat or do you have generous friends in Mendecino?

      • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

        It’s a cut-off low and a showery convective spring system by nature, some areas will see much more than .25 even in the lowlands and southland.. Im also sure some people will see .10 or less for that same reason.. It’s tough to pin point fine details with these kinds of systems as we’ve all experienced plenty already this spring. At least it’s a high confidence forecast at this point for the entire state to see a multi-day stretch of unsettled weather with T-Storms!!! ??

        • Bombillo1

          I’m good with that. Thanks.

      • weatherhead

        Hmm, Mendocino is only predicted to have possible scattered showers. Does not sound all that generous.

    • alanstorm

      Could the Omega Block over the CONUS be our friend?

    • SoCal Al (El Monte-SGV)

      I’ve been watching this “potential” storm system over the last week and how it may develop. All the the ingredients needed for a wet storm system are coming together. Multiple days of precip (Thur-Sat), overwater trajectory, slow moving with very cold air in the upper levels and no strong ridges to break through.

      With your piece of good news I’m hoping the “wet scenario” comes to fruition and not we’re not missed this time. The latest forecasted precip amounts are from .10″ to .25″, with some areas not receiving any according to the latest Oxnard AFD. Keep hope alive!

  • honzik
    • Bombillo1

      This image captures our problem succinctly. Put that shot on the rainbow
      loop and watch what happens as the band of moisture encounters dry land. “California is in a very unfavorable region for storm development or even maintenance of strength” The Mang, Dr. Swain

      http://www.goes.noaa.gov/dml/west/nhem/weus/rb.html

  • mattzweck

    I don’t know if it will last. but last couple of nights especially here in the high desert. Lancaster area. Been really humid. Almost feels like Florida weather. A wonder if this is what summer going to feel and be like.

  • Thunderstorm

    Just read where the Arctic may actually be ice free by September. Jet stream expected to swing up to the pole bringing temperatures way above normal. Pacific north west may be in for extended period of hot weather this summer. Weather here is what I was expecting last September and October, moist flow from the south with scattered convection over the coastal mountains. Stratospheric temperature forecast shows coldest air over California this coming weekend. A storm chaser’s weekend!

    • Bombillo1

      I think all of us who record our local weather would concur that we have been running quite a bit above normal temperatures, particularly during non storm influenced times (except for the past few weeks). I’m at the extreme north end of the state and this is definitely so. My old college room-mate in Santa Monica said he he had to install an air conditioner in his apt on Ocean Ave, this last summer, after living there for 35 years. We have been getting “way above normal” for quite some time now so is this a call for temps beyond even this?

      • thebigweasel

        Historic data–which admittedly is a bit thin on the ground–suggests the heat will back off once the El Nino has subsided. If it follows the pattern seen in 1997, then 2016 will be the warmest year recorded, and will hold that record for a good 8-10 years.
        Still, it’s folly to assume that a one-time trend can be considered a hard-and-fast rule, and this may be nothing more than wishful thinking on my part. The sudden spike in CO2 emissions has me a bit spooked, I admit.

        • Charlie B

          Hasn’t the persistent location of the Eastern Pacific ridge during the drought consistently pumped moist and relatively warm air up into Alaska? If La Niña takes hold might that not shift things a bit?

          • thebigweasel

            That would be a sensible assumption, but weather patterns from La Ninas are notoriously erratic.

          • Charlie B

            Call me a fanatic but really I’m pragmatic because I’d take erratic over static for all things climatic.

          • thebigweasel

            At least you’re not enigmatic.

      • Charlie B

        It is interesting comparing temps between Reno and Graeagle. Both are the same altitude, one heavily forested and one in the desert. High temps are roughly the same but lows are 10 degrees or more colder in Graeagle, and what Reno “used” to be. Minded, 45 miles south or Reno is always much cooler at night. Less urbanization is probably the cause.

    • Don’t know if ice free this year, but could definitely hit a new record low in September. An ice-free summer in the Arctic will probably start happening in at least some years in the next 2-3 decades.

  • Fairweathercactus

    I remember being a kid and I hated May. It use to be a slam dunk month full of nothing but drizzle at best.

    • RSmofo

      Now we know why the drought started…..

    • annette johnson

      Fairweathercactus, hopefully this coming weekend will be a gamechanger! Weather permitting (heatwise) I try to get out in the desert on as many short hikes as possible with the dog. I came across this beavertail cactus in bloom the other day. With only 3-4 good rain showers since January there are not many flowers or cactus in bloom so I was happy to find it.

      • Fairweathercactus

        Excellent. I am quite sad that this year I will not be chasing in the desert as I will most likely be without a ride this summer. Did you get a picture of the cactus by chance?

        • annette johnson

          Not really, they are very common here, just not too many blooming. A lot of the desert plants are confused this year from the lack of rain in Feb. & Mar. It will be interesting to see if the rain we had on Saturday changed things up.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I am not familiar with the beavertail cactus, but from looking at the pads, it appears that it is in the genus Opuntia, which would make it a relative of the prickly pear.

        • annette johnson

          You are right, they are related 🙂 The beavertail are super abundant in the Havasu area. Super beautiful when they bloom but it’s awful if you brush up against one…they have clusters of tiny, sticky hairs that are really hard to see. The only way to get them out is with tape and you’ll still feel a couple stuck in your skin a week later! I’ve made jelly from the fruit of the prickly pear…it’s wonderful, but difficult to harvest the fruit. Once again…lots of sticky hairs. I guess it’s their way of adapting to this harsh environment!

  • inclinejj

    I am almost starting to sound like Rainman, saying the same thing over and over, but it will rain down 3’s in Oaktown tonight!

    • matt (truckee)

      And a continued drought for Portland!

  • Fairweathercactus

    Area forecast discussion
    National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard California
    335 am PDT Tuesday may 3 2016

    A wise old long retired forecaster here once said of the marine
    layer stratus “just forecast persistence and then you’ll only be
    wrong once” will foolishly go against this advice and once again
    forecast a fairly robust marine layer stratus deck tonight on the
    basis of the approaching upper level trof which will provide
    enough low level lift to create the clouds. The onshore flow is
    not really what it should be so may well be another stratus free
    start to the day.

  • RSmofo

    NWS SD sums it up nicely, drying out early next week for likely a week or two of ‘fair’ weather and if we are lucky in SoCal we might get a sneaker storm sometime in the last ten days of May. Hopefully the slow moving low end of this week into the weekend can drop enough precip to get May to around average in case it’s our last shot of the ‘season.’

    In holding with the theme of late spring showers last year and this year so far I do think it’s more likely we get another shot towards the end of he month before the summer pattern settles in….

    THAT UPPER LOW TO OUR WEST SHOULD START TO LOWER HEIGHTS/TEMPS ALOFT
    TONIGHT. THAT WILL START TO DEEPEN OUR MARINE LAYER AND RESULT IN
    STRATUS BEING MORE LIKELY IN THE VALLEYS IN THE LATE NIGHTS AND
    EARLY MORNINGS. THE ONSHORE FLOW WILL INCREASE AND BRING A COOLING
    TREND TO MOST AREAS WEST OF THE MOUNTAINS WEDENSDAY. PRECIP COULD
    START THURSDAY AND PEAK FRIDAY WHEN THE UPPER LOW IS RIGHT OVER US
    AND THE MOIST LAYER IS DEEPEST…BUT THE LOW WILL MOVE SLOW ENOUGH
    THAT SOME SHOWERS COULD OCCUR OVER THE WEEKEND…ESPECIALLY IN THE
    MOUNTAINS. THUNDERSTORM CHANCES WILL BE BEST FRIDAY…BUT COULD
    HAPPEN THU AND SAT AFTERNOONS/EARLY EVENINGS AS THE SUN ANGLE IS
    HIGH ENOUGH TO RESULT IN INSTABILITY FROM DAYTIME HEATING. AT OTHER
    TIMES OF DAY…WE WILL RELY ON THE ONSHORE FLOW CAUSING LIFTING OF A
    LOW-LEVEL NEAR-SATURATED LAYER OVER THE TERRAIN TO BRING SOME
    PRECIPITATION. PRECIP AMOUNTS ARE HARD TO PEG AT THIS POINT AS IT
    WILL VARY FROM POINT-TO-POINT…BUT GENERALLY 1/4 TO 1/2 INCH SHOULD
    PREVAIL WEST OF THE MOUNTAINS…WITH LOCAL RAINFALL OF ONE INCH OR
    MORE IN THE MOUNTAINS. SNOW LEVELS WILL BE MOSTLY 6000-7000
    FEET…SO A FEW INCHES COULD FALL IN THE HIGHER MOUNTAINS…MAINLY
    SBD COUNTY…THOUGH MOISTURE WILL NOT BE AS GOOD ABOVE 800 MB.

    • Nathan

      I’m not really seeing any QPF charts get close to 1″ of rain, even in the SD mountains.

      Is this because low-level drizzle isn’t accurately accounted for?

      • DelMarSD

        QPF charts tend to be on the low side a few days out before a storm, because the predicted details of the precipitation amounts and time aren’t worked out yet. Same with chance of precipitation. NWS says 40% for Friday in SD, but it will trend higher as we get closer to the actual storm.

        • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

          This is true.. Local news forecasts have begun doing the same thing, “playing it safe” I don’t blame em for it.. all the wet weather forecasts they have displayed on the 7 day forecast only to take it away from us a day or three before.. I’ve also noticed the local news has not added in thunderstorm chances until the very day before for nearly every single storm this spring even though clearly the thunderstorm potential was there even 3-5 days out. Pops will surely be increased accordingly tomorrow if the forecast stays on track.

          Dallas Raines has mentioned a couple times this season how poor the forecasting models have been this year btw.

  • craig matthews(Big Sur)

    I love this position of the upper Low, off pt conception, the 12zGFS projects at hour +60, or Thurs late afternoon. If there’s enough clearing, Monterey/SF Bay in a great spot, favorable NE quad ish, and cyclonic flow around Low off pt conception also favors the Monterey/SF Bay areas for inland type/mountain type convection rotating from se-ese to nw-wnw over the coastal plain/and valleys. Let the good times roll…

    • Clearing=Coastal FOG? 🙂

      • craig matthews(Big Sur)

        Should be enough mixing of the layers to eliminate that but will see.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      The low off the coast is precisely where we need it to bring rain to coastal areas of Socal. It has been like pulling teeth to get a low in that position in recent years for some strange reason.

  • Andrew Valiunas

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c08d295cb4d46767538904e6e53e6e59a1981c2aa61395ha9bc7a0d4a677ff6f4.jpg
    Heading into Inyo Mtns.to the east of Big Pine yesterday afternoon on a bicycle-

  • Andrew Valiunas
    • Nathan

      stunning!

  • Wed-Sun period actually looking quite active convectively speaking for most of CA, at least at times. May have an update this PM given unusually long-duration scattered shower/thunderstorm regime…

    • Do you think this might have more longevity being on the west side of an Omega? The May 5-7th event last year looked more Rex, at least to me.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Will coastal Socal finally get something for a change?

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    Euro still holding strong with its model forecast.. So very consistent it puts a smile on my face! 🙂 still showing a little better of a storm overall than the GFS solution.. 12z ECMWF and 12z GFS comparison. 1mb deeper than the GFS too with the cut-off LP, hahaa not much, but every bit counts!! 😛

  • Barney

    Wet n Wild

    • AlTahoe

      Wow this seems exactly like last May. Is that 4″ bulls-eye over Donner Summit in that graphic?

      • Barney

        Pretty close, maybe a hair south. Getting a ride in today before the rain. I did a great ride yesterday up Cold stream, JP’s trail, I’d never done it, pretty fun.

        • AlTahoe

          Looks like the trails will be flooded Thursday through the weekend so I will probably hit cold creek today after work.

          “Thunderstorms

          may produce heavy rainfall with models showing a bullseye for

          low- level convergence and precipitation around the Reno- Tahoe

          area on Thursday afternoon and evening.”

          • Barney

            Also talking of good chances for accumulating hail.

      • craig matthews(Big Sur)

        Particularly around the west coast states and 4 corners really does look similar to last May.

        • DelMarSD

          Just as I predicted. A wet, troughy spring.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            In Socal coastal areas, we need the “wet” part of it to take hold. It has been troughy and cool here, but it still refuses to rain except for an isolated shower at times. I have really felt that I have been left out of the action for the last several weeks.

          • jstrahl

            Not really all that much action in the Bay Area, when you look back at it, We finished April in central Berkeley a touch below average. I guess that’s better than a lot below average or a shutout.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            That is a lot better than .02″ during the last 3 weeks or so.

          • DelMarSD

            Wait until Friday.

    • Thirsty Nick (Santa Maria)

      Whiteout for the Sierras. Whee!

    • jstrahl

      At least for the Sierras. But that’s where it counts the most.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      Reminds me of the images we saw from the Oakland Hills Fire as people were running in all directions as the fire approached Hwy 24.

    • DelMarSD

      Didn’t AK and Canada have really bad fore last year as well? Is this isolated, or are conditions ripe for more forest fires in the weeks ahead?

  • AlTahoe

    And the rains have started. Small thunderstorm has popped up directly over my Neighborhood according to radar

  • DelMarSD

    Looking quite nice.

  • Tyler Price (Van Nuys)

    Pretty cool “sun halo” right now.. From the high level clouds streaming in.

  • inclinejj

    Drove by Casa de Bandini. A nice rain storm from just outside Truckee over the summit and down the hill. The mad I-80 dash down the carpool lane to Oracle.