Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Update: It Never Rains in California

by Calculated Risk on 2/12/2014 09:41:00 AM

A month ago I mentioned that California is experiencing another drought year. Since California is the largest agricultural state, the ongoing drought could have an impact on food prices - and on the economy.

From the WSJ: Battle Over California Drought Solution

California's drought is becoming a hot issue on Capitol Hill, where bills from Senate Democrats and House Republicans offer rival solutions on how to best aid water-starved farmers.

The Golden State has suffered through a three-year drought that is forcing farmers to leave fallow hundreds of thousands of acres. Other Western states have experienced drought conditions for much of the past decade, prompting water managers across the region to embark on billions of dollars in projects to safeguard and stockpile supplies. Because California boasts a bigger agricultural sector than any other state, the drought could have an outsize economic impact nationally, raising produce prices. A weekend storm dumped rain and snow on Northern California, but officials said that put only a small dent in the drought.
Lawmakers can't make it rain!

Here are a few resources to track the drought. These tables show the snowpack in the North, Central and South Sierra. Currently the snowpack is about 28% of normal for this date.

And here are some plots comparing the current and previous years to the average, a very dry year ('76-'77) and a wet year ('82-'83).

For John Muir Trail hikers, I recommend using the Upper Tyndall Creek sensor to track the snow conditions. This is the third dry year in a row along the JMT.