All Weather News

Extreme California Drought Deepens…Again

31 Jul 2014, 3:23 pm

While Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas received plenty of beneficial moisture this week, California continues to sit in its worst drought – and it’s gotten worse. Much worse.

Here’s a look at the newly-updated USDA drought monitor, focusing in on California:

7-31_drought monitor

The portion of California in a D-4 designated drought, labeled in the map by the darkest and reddest coloring, the most severe of the drought monitor’s five levels, is now an astounding 58.41 percent, up from 36.49 percent last week (the drought monitor is updated every Thursday). Fines are being handed out in parts of California for water wasting, and pressure is increasing on industrial agriculture to reduce its water use in light of depleted resources. California is America’s biggest agriculture producer, which could lead to a rise in food prices as a result of the drought.

Meteorologically, a persistent ‘blocking’ pattern has kept California dry and hot for a large portion of the last year. Strong high pressure has consistently been just offshore, forcing low pressure to meander around it and leave California in a rain shadow (and dip down into the eastern U.S., bringing with it cooler than normal conditions to the east). Some relief appeared to be on the way of a potentially strong El Nino, but the latest guidance indicates a milder El Nino is more likely to occur instead, making it unlikely that an El Nino’s typically rainy conditions for California will wash away the drought anytime soon.

Additionally, wildfire season, which typically peaks in the fall, looks unfortunately to be unusually active this year with the hot and dry conditions plaguing California. A heat wave, typically courtesy of the offshore Santa Ana winds, could trigger fires in prone southern California come September and October.

The forecast offers little in the way of a reprieve for the Golden State over the forseeable future, with some monsoonal thunderstorms creeping their way into the eastern portions of the state through the weekend but nothing that will help alleviate the bone-dry conditions.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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