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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:10 am 
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Dave's Run
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So, my neighbor was washing down his driveway yesterday. I asked him if he knew about our current drought situation and he said that's why he's washing down his driveway. He said when they start rationing, they'll ration based on your usage. That's how his solar lease worked. So, he's trying to use as much water as possible now. :o :x


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:22 pm 
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Broadway
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^^god bless that man! 8-)

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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:28 pm 
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Kiwi Flat
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LOL
Breaking Godwin.
I'll try and get it all in here.

Sierra Lady wrote:
SurfnSnowboard wrote:
Sierra Lady wrote:
All this talk about a possible "drought busting" season is not going to happen. It would take 2-3 seasons of immense amounts of snow in order to reduce this drought!

We'll never forget New Year's of 1997 and the flooding that wiped out Walker Canyon. We have a framed photo of SG's flight with the USFS over Mammoth Mountain the morning after that storm as they surveyed the damage from the air.

Only 11 and 4 are open this morning.


One major AR event could easily bust the drought. Essentially the drought in northern California was busted this fall with precipitation 400% of normal restoring soil moisture and filling reservoirs.

Certainly an AR event like the one that flooded the entire Central Valley in 1862 would bust any drought conditions. It would be so typical to go from drought to flood.


This is Sierra Gentleman. It is far too early to be talking about an end to the drought. First of all, the 400% of average rainfall received in northern California was for just one river basin, the Klamath River. This 400% was for season to date, not season long. The precipitation for the entire season is only 30% of average for the entire season. A 400% to date observation is not a drought buster.

For those of you who are confused about "year to date" and "season" precipitation data let me give an example. The season average for water content in the snow at Mammoth Pass is about 44". Now if we have 11" of water in the snowpack on December 1st that is 25% of the seasonal average (11 /44 = 1/4 or 25%). If the average amount of water in the snowpack on December 1st is 5.5" then the average to date is 200% (11/5.5 = 2 or 200%). The "year to date" average is not data that should be relied on. If it doesn't snow much in December, January, February and March, let say only 2.2" additional water in the snowpack the season total will be 11" + 2.2" = 13.2" That 13.2" for the season is only 30% of average (13.2/44 = 0.3 or 30%) for the entire season. This is important as in below average years the to date average at the Mammoth Pass snow course has often been hundreds of percent ahead of the "year to date" average in November and December, but then the snow stops and we have almost no snow in the Jan-March period.

The second item to keep in mind that the Sierra Nevada snowpack is the state's largest water reservoir. The snowpack melts slowly, supplying aquifers, streams and reservoirs with water throughout the summer. The average date at Mammoth Pass that the snow course becomes snow-free is in mid-June. The elevation there is 9,300 feet and as anyone who hikes above that elevation throughout the summer observes that other areas do not become snow-free until August and in some above average snowfall years snow remains at the first snowfall of the coming winter. The recent storms have brought rain to elevations above the 11,053 summit of Mammoth Mountain. Rain does not have the same capability to recharge aquifers as it runs off more quickly when compared to snowpack. While it may initially fill reservoirs at lower elevations rain does not provide the lengthy runoff into the peak of the summer when water demands are the highest.

In summary we can see that "year to date" precipitation data is not drought ending information. Second, rain at higher elevations, even in high amounts, will not end the drought as rain does not fill the largest and most important water "reservoir" in the state. Most hydrologists have indicated that several years of above average years are going to be needed to end the drought.


Sierra Lady wrote:
Sierra Gentleman here. I should add that my example of the water content at Mammoth Pass is hypothetical and numbers were chosen to simplify the explanation. None of the numbers reflect the actual situation at Mammoth Pass, currently or in the past.

I should also further explain the idea of the Sierra snowpack being the state's largest reservoir. The snowpack does not need a large dam, but it is a reservoir of water held back from flowing downstream by freezing temperatures in the pack itself. The melt is relatively slow. Contrast that with rain that begins runoff immediately. The problem with rain is that is fills up the state's dam formed reservoirs quickly. There is no snowpack behind it to keep the reservoirs filled throughout the summer. If it continues to rain at higher elevations that have, in the past, had a winter long snowpack, then reservoirs fill and any additional runoff can't be stored. The water that can't be stored eventually runs out to the sea. If reservoirs fill to capacity now it does not indicate the drought is over because without the snowpack reservoir at average or above average levels summer long flow will not occur.

Compare that with snow in the "state's largest reservoir." On April 1st the most important snow course measurement/runoff prediction is made. Based on a lot of science and 90+ years of measurements the amount of water flowing downstream to the man made reservoirs can be predicted. Managing the disbursement of the water and managing the levels of water in the reservoirs can be accomplished with some accuracy as the amount of water left to come is a known value. The only water allowed to run into the ocean is that required for environmental needs (fish, wildlife, maintaining water course ability to handle flood flows to name a few).

The solution is not more dams as California has built reservoirs in every possible location for a dam. The last large dam site, the Auburn Dam, on the American River east of Sacramento, has both seismic and geological hazards that have, so far, kept the proposal from being acted on. Some additional storage might be possible in a very limited number of locations by adding to the height of existing dams. A proposal to raise Shasta Dam is currently in the Environmental Impact Statement process or just past it. It looks like its going to happen, but is going to be very expensive. This may not be a suitable solution for more storage at other dams.

There are already indicators that warming temperatures and shorter winters are affecting the long term snowpack. The average snowpack is getting smaller as warming temperatures are not allowing lower elevation snowpack to form and persist as long as in the past. Increasing amounts of rain at elevations that in the past have had snowpack is a very troubling trend. Rain, in particular so called atmospheric river events, is not good news for the long term water supply for California.

I learned a great deal while working for the U.S. Forest Service in California. If memory serves me about 50% of the water consumed in the state originates on national forest land. A lot more originates on other public lands such as national parks, national wildlife refuges and to a smaller degree, Bureau of Land Management administered public lands. This is no small contribution either.
Think of the importance of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to San Francisco and the huge amount of potential snowpack in the upper Kern River Basin in Sequoia National Park. I added to my knowledge of the 6 units of hydrology I took in college as all aspects of the management of the national forests I worked on in the state were affected by the importance of delivering high quality water downstream. Our management was highly affected by the snowpack and runoff. We had to know a lot about the current snowpack each year to plan for road, campground and other facility openings/closings. The amount and type of precipitation affected our activities in the current winter as well. I was the frontcountry recreation field supervisor on the Mammoth Ranger District and was heavily involved in decisions to open/close facilities. One of my largest workloads on the ground was opening/closings and getting ready/cleaning up before and after them.


Sierra Lady wrote:
Sierra Gentleman here. One last topic I should touch as a result of the posts above. Skiers and most of the public are always curious to know how many inches of snow has fallen or how deep the pack is. For hydrologists they have to know the water content in the snow and the number of inches that have fallen is not largely important. Why? Snow falls with a wide range of density. I used to have one day a week where I took the Mammoth weather station's 24 hour weather observations. The station is located at the Mammoth Ranger Station, which at the time was not open to public on Sundays, a day I worked year long. I measured snow as heavy as 28% or a little more than 1" of water from 4" of melted snow. I also measured as light as 4% or 1" of water from 25" of melted snow.

To the skier this is important as 25 inches of 4% snow would be fantastic! Talk about ego snow! During my time at downhill ski areas I telemarked far more than I alpine skied. The telemark turn was developed for deep powder and for telemark skiers, a foot or two of powder increases performance by a few levels.

For the hydrologist the end product, the one we all depend on, is the amount of water the snowpack contains. This is best illustrated with the hype given to the record amount of inches that fell on Mammoth Mountain since measurements started there. I think it was 2010-2011 or a few years earlier. However, this was not the highest water content measured for one year. That record belongs to the winter of 1982-1983 when the April 1st water content was over 90" at Mammoth Pass. That was a challenging year and continued to be so until the next winter arrived.


SurfnSnowboard wrote:
Well SG you might want to tell all that to the people that run drought.gov because their site shows a reduction in the area and severity of drought in northern California.

According to the government last year 92.26% of California was in severe to exceptional drought (D2-D4 on the drought scale). As of last week that was down by 30% to 60.27%. By the end of this month that number will be reduced further given the amount of precipitation and areas where it fell.

I think some of you underestimate the potential of massive AR events. Are you forgetting about the floods of 1862?


BluffDweller wrote:
SurfnSnowboard wrote:
I think some of you underestimate the potential of massive AR events. Are you forgetting about the floods of 1862?


I think you underestimate the power of crisis oriented media narratives punctuated by the human mind's love for the crutch of confirmation bias. The whole drought narrative is designed around justifying Jerry Brown's environmental agenda (designed to curb global warming, which caused this drought, and will cause others... so he says) in such a way that we forget that it's killing the agricultural and resource-extraction jobs that the immigrants and low-skilled labor that he and his party claim to fight for depend on in order to make a living in this state. Higher regulation = Fewer low skilled jobs = more welfare recipients = more Democrat votes for Sacramento = more power for Dem politicans = more regulations = higher taxes = even more welfare cases... and so-on-and-so-forth.

The drought was a water management problem. And to continue to foist the narrative that anything else could be more responsible for the blame is disingenuous. Especially in light of the stories that people tend to miss. Climate change is a bogey for the inconvenient truth that the powers-that-be in State (and the federal too, while I'm at it) government are a colossal failure at their appointed tasks.

For example, we released enough water into the San Francisco Bay (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/0 ... ght-storm/) over the last year to provide water to half of San Diego County (roughly 1/6 of the state's population) in order to save a fish that hasn't been observed spawning there in decades. And then, even in light of the drought, San Diego was never officially "in a drought" as we had a water surplus even in its deepest days... but yet we still had to cut back. A facial case for bad water management

As you say, SurfnSnowboard, we have had unbelievable deluges that the media delights in covering up (or at least not speaking about... how else are they going to condition us to be willing to let Sacramento dictate our water policy?). We have also had incredible dry years (apocalyptic ones, actually, as recounted in this wonderful story that I highly recommend for all regular visitors to the Eastern Sierra https://www.amazon.com/Thirsty-William- ... 194260002X) that, history suggests, were just as bad if not worse than these past few years.

For others above, I would recommend taking a wider frame of reference before making sweeping generalizations. Even years of experience is no guard against confirmation bias.


boarddad wrote:
^ Much is made of the drought in So Cal but it's really a non-issue. The water supply system is dependent upon imported water for a very good reason; there is no system in place to store any of the water that falls in So Cal (Big Bear and Arrowhead lakes as well as the relatively meager local snowpack being the obvious exceptions). The storm drains are designed to carry the water to the ocean as quickly and efficiently as possible. Anyone remember the big rains in '98? Flooding is easily far more damaging to the infrastructure than any earthquake. The popular battle cry in No Cal is that So Cal is "stealing their water", but when they experience flooding like some communities are right now, they are more than happy to send us every drop.


ShiftyRider wrote:
Don't mind me, but I see Sierra Gentleman saying the drought ain't over.

One rebuttal references drought.gov but when you go there, they agree that the drought ain't over. The other rebuttals kinda go like "What? Not everybody can hear the voices in my head?"

Pesky facts...

- the flood of 1862 included a melting of the existing snowpack so that snow was no longer "reservoired"

- the article about the poor fish forgot to mention the fish


SurfnSnowboard wrote:
Whether the drought is over or not depends on where you are. A year ago 100% of the state was in drought and now that figure is 90% so 10% of the state is no longer in drought due to the very wet fall. The question though wasn't whether the drought was over today but rather whether it would take several years of above average precipitation to end the drought. The answer to that question is always No.

If you look at the Palmer Drought Index it's more like the northern 1/3 of the state is wetter than normal, middle 1/3 is normal, lower 1/3 is severe to extreme drought. That's right half of the state or less (I'm eyeballing the chart) is in drought according to the government's Palmer Drought Index!

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-co ... ek-pdi.gif


Sierra Lady wrote:
Sierra Gentleman here. I don't underestimate anything at all, I rely on CA Department of Water Resources data. These data show one river basin at 415% of precipitation "to date." It is the Klamath River and the California state website shows that to be 31% of a season long average. I repeat that "to date" precipitation figures are a slippery slope to make any long term decisions on. Many of the other northern California rivers show average to date precipitation of 300-385% and season long averages of 25-30%.

I just saw a Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park employee today in Bishop who skis into all of the park's eastern snow courses from eastern Sierra trailheads. He does this monthly and has been doing it for about 25 years now. He and I worked together on a number of snow related issues during my time on the Mammoth Ranger District. We spoke of the effect of warm winter temperatures, the rainfall we are receiving in what has been, in the past, one of the two coldest months of the winter and the shrinkage in area of the long term winter snowpack. We spoke of the importance of the Sierra Nevada snowpack for agriculture in the Central Valley of California. We also noted that as of today the Mammoth Pass snow course shows 24% of average water content to date and 5% of a season long average water content.

I have attended a number of lectures at SNARL in the last 25 years, particularly in the last 5 years of drought, given by NWS forecasters and hydrologists as well as researchers from a number of different universities and research organizations. The consensus on what types of winters needed to end the drought seems to be that we need 150% of average water content in the snowpack of April 1st for a minimum of 3 year by the more optimistic of the group and 5 or more years by others. Some say the number of years can't be predicted as the current drought is unprecedented to the direct observation of science. If I remember correctly the current drought is the worst since since the period 1000-1200 A.D. according to tree ring data from the White Mtns.

I have seen people post of this forum their opinions of how the water and snowpack are being affected by a short series of storms. I've seen people declare an end to the drought based on short term events or a series of storms. I've seen those opinions and declarations fail far more often than they have succeeded. The remainder of the winter will tell how much of a factor of these two or three warm storm events will have on water supply. I know that if we continue to get high elevation rains for the remainder of the winter, water deliveries to Central Valley agriculture will be well below average. By the way, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is the source of 60% of all of the water consumed in California, both agriculture and domestic uses.

I mentioned my work experience and education to indicate to you that I'm not someone who has taken a recent interest in snowpack and runoff. I've been out in the field and following the data 15 years prior to the widespread use of the internet. The Forest Service was on the fast mail list for monthly measurement data from the CA DWR and the federal National Resource and Conservation Service (formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service). I've written and spoken to the chief hydrologist of the L.A.D.W.P. several times to make sure my understanding about some key aspects of snowpack and water runoff in the eastern Sierra was correct.

I am not alone in cautioning people from making season long predictions based on early season data.

I will read up on the flood of 1862. I will note that nearly nothing was known about snowpack and runoff measurements at the time and that any snowpack data from the Sierra Nevada was by casual observation and anecdotal at best. In addition widespread irrigation did not exist at the time and urban water use was met with small, local water systems. The state's dependence on the Sierra Nevada snowpack is a completely different story now than it was then.


Sierra Lady wrote:
Sierra Gentleman here. Keep in mind that I'm not saying that the winter will not be an average or above average year. The history of snowfall in the Sierra is that a lot of it can occur in a short period of time. I'm reminded of the last time we had an intense pineapple express in the Sierra in February of 1986. The winter had been somewhat dry up to that point and then 13 straight days of snowfall/rain occurred. The snow level bounced from 6,000 feet to higher than the summit of Mt. Whitney during those 13 days. Remember the average of 44" being the average water content in the snowpack at the Mammoth Pass snow course? In 1986 35" of water was laid down up there in those 13 days. What would have otherwise been a drought year and a very significant one at that, was turned into an average or slightly above average winter in that short period of time. We also had the most intense and widespread avalanche cycles in over 300 years in the central and southern Sierra Nevada.

I do hope it starts to snow intensely and frequently soon. I remember my first winter in the eastern Sierra, that of 1981-1982. I remember getting a little snow in early October and a little at Thanksgiving, most of it on the west side. I remember BBQing some steaks for New Year's Eve and having the snow start just I was taking the steaks inside. Then it didn't stop for weeks and we had a well above average winter. So it can happen as late as Jan 1st and still be a heavy winter.


Sierra Lady wrote:
SG again. The reason that most scientific professionals state that several 150% winters will be needed to bust the drought is the deficit in both high elevation and low elevation aquifers. We won't begin to get the average runoff from an average snowpack because the aquifers have to filled first and that reduces surface flows.


Sierra Lady wrote:
boarddad wrote:
^ Much is made of the drought in So Cal but it's really a non-issue. The water supply system is dependent upon imported water for a very good reason; there is no system in place to store any of the water that falls in So Cal (Big Bear and Arrowhead lakes as well as the relatively meager local snowpack being the obvious exceptions). The storm drains are designed to carry the water to the ocean as quickly and efficiently as possible. Anyone remember the big rains in '98? Flooding is easily far more damaging to the infrastructure than any earthquake. The popular battle cry in No Cal is that So Cal is "stealing their water", but when they experience flooding like some communities are right now, they are more than happy to send us every drop.


Sierra Gentleman here. Don't forget that southern California's largest reservoirs (excluding those that store state water project water and Colorado River aqueduct water) are located at the mouth of the major canyons of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains. There are debris/water percolation basins, such as Hansen Dam in the San Fernando Valley that are designed to catch surface runoff and hold it so that debris will settle and water is held to fill up aquifers located at the base of the two mountain ranges.

Runoff into storm drains can be substantial considering the amount of paving and rooftops present. It would be great if high quality water could be produced from this runoff, but it is subject to a very knotty problem called "non point pollution." All the contaminants washed from streets and parking lots are very difficult to remove so the water is potable. New reservoirs would have to be built to store this water, which would presumably be pumped from coastal treatment plants. Can this be done? Can the water be treated? Can we afford to build this new infrastructure?


Sierra Lady wrote:
BluffDweller wrote:
SurfnSnowboard wrote:
I think some of you underestimate the potential of massive AR events. Are you forgetting about the floods of 1862?


I think you underestimate the power of crisis oriented media narratives...snip


Sierra Gentleman here. You mention a fish that hasn't been seen for years as the reason for water flowing into the sea. Then you cite an article that explains that a major reason for these flows is to make room in some reservoirs such as Folsom Lake for possible flooding. So it isn't just about fish. In addition, there is an issue of salt water encroachment spreading upward from the greater San Francisco Bay if sufficient outflow of fresh water does not occur. This encroachment could cause a lot of farmland in the delta region to become non productive for a very long time. In addition outflow is needed to maintain the flood flow capacity of stream courses. This requires periodic "flushing flows," annually if possible. There is more to this issue than one species of fish.

The agricultural water users carry considerable political clout. Sometimes they misrepresent some of the issues that keep them from drawing every drop from rivers so they don't flow to the ocean at all. We should also remember that those water users raise the food we all depend on. Water issues are very complex and there are no easy answers. Oversimplification of the issues is counterproductive.


Sierra Lady wrote:
Sierra Gentleman here. I detect that some people here are skeptical about the existence of water supply shortages. The rate of overdraft in Central Valley aquifers is well documented. The reduced flow from a decreasing Sierra snowpack is well documented. These are facts with reams of data to support them. California has the largest number of snow measurement sites of any area of the country. The measurement data is available on line. In the last 5 years the largest snowstorm we've seen in our driveway in Mammoth was 16." In my long term experience as a resident of Mono County a 16" storm is not even a real snowstorm, which in my book starts at 24." I can see brown ground and vegetation from our front porch more than I've ever seen. The snowpack around our place is not on the ground as long as it used to be. The snowpack around our house supplies the City of Los Angeles with high quality water. There isn't a cover up, there isn't a mismanagement problem, there just isn't enough snow falling and compressing into a dense snowpack as there has been in the past. Long term snow fields and glaciers are disappearing or becoming smaller in area and are losing their depth. I can see that just traveling around the area. I can see non wetland vegetation species sprouting in meadows indicating that the water table is becoming deeper. There is just not as much water at the other end of our faucets.


Sierra Lady wrote:
ShiftyRider wrote:
Don't mind me...snip


SG again. An interesting aspect of the 1862 floods is the 3-4 year drought that followed this weather anomaly.

I've lived in the eastern Sierra for 35 years now and remember years of flooding in the Sacramento area. I remember Folsom Lake having too much water in it to mitigate flood flows in the Sacramento urban area. The article that was cited about fish, as you said, is not about fish, but this very issue about water being released from Folsom to make room for flood flows. It is really tough to balance flood control and water supply needs given the current state of precipitation prediction capability, something that has advanced far more than people give credit for, but still short of what is needed.


mirrorball wrote:
I really appreciated SG's posts on the drought; they were very informative for me.
Then I see this in the LA Times today - which doesn't seem to communicate the proper expectation with regard to the condition of the drought - based on what I learned from SG.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-m ... story.html, with comments like:

"And by almost all measures, the drought picture in Northern California has dramatically improved over the last two months, as a series of storms have helped replenish the state’s two major water projects. So far this season, rain levels in the northern Sierra are 180% of average, with 23.5 inches of rain falling — and more on the way this week."

Now back to the impending storm!


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:29 pm 
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Dec 13th
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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:16 pm 
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Wow 2NA nice.
Since you went to all that work I will throw my 2 cent in. The drought could never be over in one year even if most of the reservoirs were filled to overflowing because water percolates slowly (mostly) into the aquifers. We have been pumping water like crazy that has taken many decades to percolate down. Just cant fix it in one year no matter how wet the year - just like Lake Mead could never be totally re-filled in just one year.


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:52 pm 
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The Palmer Drought Index indicates that the northern part of the state is wetter than normal while the center is about normal and the south is still heavy in drought.

Image

One measurement of drought is soil moisture. By that measurement the northern part of the state is wetter than normal while the middle and southern areas are dry.

Image

The seasonal drought outlook shows that the northern part of the state is no longer in drought and the mid-northern part should either see an end to the drought conditions or improvement while the south is mired in the long term drought.

Image

All charts from drought.gov


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:22 pm 
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Great job finding this old topic and compiling all SG's comments here, 2NA. You must not have anything else to do...LOL!

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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:24 pm 
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Same to you.


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:28 pm 
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^ Touche! I'm semi-retired and work one job from home, another outside the home, have a dog-walking/house sitting side biz and two volunteer "jobs". Not as much time on my hands now as I had when I was working full-time...LOL!

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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:02 pm 
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SurfnSnowboard wrote:

Whether the drought is over or not depends on where you are. A year ago 100% of the state was in drought and now that figure is 90% so 10% of the state is no longer in drought due to the very wet fall. The question though wasn't whether the drought was over today but rather whether it would take several years of above average precipitation to end the drought. The answer to that question is always No.

If you look at the Palmer Drought Index it's more like the northern 1/3 of the state is wetter than normal, middle 1/3 is normal, lower 1/3 is severe to extreme drought. That's right half of the state or less (I'm eyeballing the chart) is in drought according to the government's Palmer Drought Index!

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-co ... ek-pdi.gif


Sierra Gentleman here. The text in bold is incorrect. The data indicates how much water has been "mined" in the last 5 years. It takes more than a few storms to refill what has been overdrafted during this long period. I've also attended lectures at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) located south of Mammoth given by NWS weather forecasters, USGS scientists, CA Department Water Resources hydrologists and research scientists from the Reno based Desert Research Institute who have have presented data about the condition of aquifers, rates of infill and rates of draw down. They, without a dissenting member, all have stated it will take several above average winters to return these aquifers and stream flows to their pre-drought levels. This is not surprise as this very principle was discussed in my college hydrology courses at Northern Arizona University back in the early 1970's.

When discussing drought it is best to stick to the science and the people who are educated and work in it.

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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:05 pm 
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Duplicate

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Last edited by Sierra Lady on Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:06 pm 
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mirrorball wrote:
I really appreciated SG's posts on the drought; they were very informative for me.
Then I see this in the LA Times today - which doesn't seem to communicate the proper expectation with regard to the condition of the drought - based on what I learned from SG.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-m ... story.html, with comments like:

"And by almost all measures, the drought picture in Northern California has dramatically improved over the last two months, as a series of storms have helped replenish the state’s two major water projects. So far this season, rain levels in the northern Sierra are 180% of average, with 23.5 inches of rain falling — and more on the way this week."

Now back to the impending storm!


Sierra Gentleman here. The author of the L.A. Times article cited here lacks an understanding of several issues. He cites the nearly universally misunderstood "precipitation to date" data set when he speaks of northern California. He also misunderstands the importance of the Sierra snowpack for keep reservoirs filled during the high water demands of spring, summer and fall. He barely mentions snow, choosing to write about rain. He fails to understand that the Sierra snowpack is the source of 60% of all the water used in the state.

For those of you who want to follow the condition of the eastern Sierra snowpack click onto this link:

http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/faces/ladwp/aboutus/a-water/a-w-losangelesaqueduct/a-w-laa-snowsurvey?

Click onto "Eastern Sierra Current Precipitation Conditions." The data available as of right now is current as of 12/13/16 and does not include this last storm, which left 4-5" of wonderfully heavy snow. It will make a little dent in the nearly 90% of the seasonal average water content that we still need to be laid down to reach an average winter. We need to keep in mind that we are looking for a significantly above average winter to begin to reverse the effects of the 5 years of significantly below average winters.


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:55 pm 
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Broadway
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Posts: 32
SG, thank you for taking the time to explain the drought and water supply in more detail. I work for Caltrans on the design side down in Bishop and live here in town. Over the last few years, we have put a lot of efforts statewide into upgrading our irrigation infrastructure on urban highways as well as other facilities such as rest areas to reduce water use. If I recall the details, we have cut water use by over 50% statewide and we are not done yet. The big push is to tie into grey water systems where available. Right now that is in urban areas where municipalities are setting up grey water infrastructure to support uses that do not require drinking quality water. California is becoming a leader in this field. The focus is also to plant drought tolerant plant species on current and future projects. Here in the Eastern Sierra my focus is environmental restoration (all native species) on roadsides impacted by highway construction. In most instances no irrigation is required, the summer monsoon rains and snowmelt take care of our watering needs. The drought definitely impacts those efforts.


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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:16 pm 
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Rodger's Ridge
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:20 pm
Posts: 14645
Location: Little slice of heaven in the Eastern Sierra
Quote:
Sierra Lady wrote:

Whether the drought is over or not depends on where you are. A year ago 100% of the state was in drought and now that figure is 90% so 10% of the state is no longer in drought due to the very wet fall. The question though wasn't whether the drought was over today but rather whether it would take several years of above average precipitation to end the drought. The answer to that question is always No.

If you look at the Palmer Drought Index it's more like the northern 1/3 of the state is wetter than normal, middle 1/3 is normal, lower 1/3 is severe to extreme drought. That's right half of the state or less (I'm eyeballing the chart) is in drought according to the government's Palmer Drought Index!

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-co ... ek-pdi.gif

Sierra Gentleman here. The text in bold is incorrect. The data indicates how much water has been "mined" in the last 5 years. It takes more than a few storms to refill what has been overdrafted during this long period. I've also attended lectures at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) located south of Mammoth given by NWS weather forecasters, USGS scientists, CA Department Water Resources hydrologists and research scientists from the Reno based Desert Research Institute who have have presented data about the condition of aquifers, rates of infill and rates of draw down. They, without a dissenting member, all have stated it will take several above average winters to return these aquifers and stream flows to their pre-drought levels. This is not surprise as this very principle was discussed in my college hydrology courses at Northern Arizona University back in the early 1970's.

When discussing drought it is best to stick to the science and the people who are educated and work in it.


Quote:
SurfnSnowboard wrote:


In case you missed it or chose to ignore it the official government data shows that anywhere from 1/4 to 2/3 of the state is no longer in drought. An average year last year and extremely wet fall has significantly impacted the drought conditions throughout most of the central and northern part of the state. You seem to not understand that drought doesn't mean just aquifers. Maybe you have forgotten the meaning of the word "drought".

If you would like to continue this conversation then post in the drought thread where all the relevant charts have been posted.


Sierra Gentleman here. I do ignore the Palmer Index when it indicates an end to the drought when the river basin has only 30% of a season total precipitation. We ignored the Palmer Index when I was in the Forest Service because it is known to differ greatly from the hydrological cycle. I just perused a few scientific papers that state this. I used the keywords "Palmer Index and stream flow." We also ignored the Palmer Index because it did not include wildland fuel moisture. Some of the largest fuels could be very dry when the Palmer indicated no drought. This, especially in the spring, if fuels had not been sufficiently moisturized throughout the winter. The large fuels have a 42 day time lag for gaining or losing moisture. The Palmer Index is rather short term in its outlook. It is likely the Palmer Index is the most widely known of the various indices available, but it has many shortcomings. It does not include stream flow, snowpack water content or aquifer conditions in its calculation, or more conservatively it does not place enough importance on these topics.

Another index we used the Keetch-Byram. It too has a short term perspective. I used to follow the real time snow pillow data on the California Shared Data website in order to make budgetary, logistical and operational decisions. I even developed a formula using a regressive analysis (I believe that is the name of the process) to establish a cause and effect relationship between the water content of the snow on April 1st and May 1st to predict the day we would be able to open the Lakes Basin and Reds Meadow roads.

I've worked closely with USGS and LADWP hydrologists for nearly 20 years. My job was in the field 60% of the time, year long. I skied 300 kilometers each year.

When I quote scientists and hydrologists who have stated its going to take several above average years to return stream flows and aquifers to levels that existed prior to 2012 I'm not making it up. It is this direct contact with those who understand the issue far better than you and I do that is reflected in my comments.

It should also be remembered that many aquifers in California were being over drafted during periods of average and above average precipitation. Thus, water was being mined, being used above the level of inflow. Such is a very long term situation and it will have to be addressed at some point. We've been kicking the can down the road for too many years. The state government is beginning to address this issue. I think the government in California has a better chance of addressing this issue than most western states. In the Midwest there is a serious, long term problem of overdraft from the Ogallala Aquifer that isn't being addressed at all. We need to not make the same mistake here in California.

My experience with the subject is direct and hands on. I likely have more of this experience than most who post here. I worked the last 18 years of my career here in the eastern Sierra. I was surrounded by hydrologists, soil scientists, USGS scientists and meteorologists during that time. I picked up a thing or two from these people.

Bottom line, in my opinion and experience, is that the end of a drought can't be declared until a full winter's precipitation has accumulated and it matches or exceeds the long term average. It is far too early in the winter to predict that a long term average water content in the snowpack will be reached by April 1st. There have been many years where the winter shuts off (due to the RRR) after a series of storms has brought a quick accumulation of snow early in the season. I hope this winter is different, but only time will tell.

_________________
Always carry chains.
"You can’t get too much winter in the winter." — Robert Frost.
www.mammothmuseum.org


Last edited by Sierra Lady on Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: It's Official: Brown Declares a Drought!
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:03 am 
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Rodger's Ridge
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:24 pm
Posts: 11668
Quote:
When discussing drought it is best to stick to the science and the people who are educated and work in it.


Quote:

I do ignore the Palmer Index


Which is it? Trust the experts or trust the experts only when they agree with you?

Drought isn't about what might happen in 6 months. It's about current conditions, that's what you want to ignore. It's not about whether aquifers have been replenished or not.


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