I write up monthly crop/dairy related articles for a company called FCStone, eDairy and I thought I would share this month's article with you all seeing it's very interesting regarding the worst drought in over 1,200 years in California.
The state of California is experiencing the worst drought in at least 1,200 years according to scientists who analyze tree rings. According to the American Geophysical Union, it’s now drier in California than during the 1930s dust bowl and the historic droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. The scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Minnesota used tree rings to reconstruct the Golden State’s temperature and precipitation history dating back to 800 A.D., Washington Post reports. The method they applied was simple and vivid, with tighter rings on California’s oldest trees meaning dryer years. During the 1,200-year period, the researchers identified 66 droughts, which lasted between three to nine years. But none of them were as bad as the drought that started in California in 2012 and still far from coming to an end. Moreover, the trees revealed that 2014 turned out to be the worst single drought year in the surveyed period.
The current dry season was caused not only by low below-average precipitation, but also by record-breaking heat, which intensified the drought by around 36 per cent, the scientists said. More than 50 percent of California remains in exceptional drought. Bloomberg reports that water shortages as well as crop and pasture losses may cost the state 2.2 billion dollars this year and 428,000 acres of land left unplanted. Even with record rains, falling in California during the first week of December it wasn’t enough to seriously affect the situation. It’s too bad because more than a year’s supply of water has gone missing in the state’s reservoirs. It’ll take at least several unusually wet years to regain the losses.
What’s positive news? The precipitation outlook for the rest of this month looks above normal and there’s a good chance it will stay above normal through the winter of 2014/2015. 5-10 inches of rain could fall across the state between today and the 17th. The reason for the wetter pattern is called the pineapple express. It’s the non-technical term for a meteorological phenomenon characterized by and strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and associated with heavy precipitation from the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands and extending to any location along the Pacific coast of North America. The enhanced rainfall pattern is often present during an El Nino episode. There is an approximately 65% chance that El Nino conditions will develop this winter and last into the spring. So if El Nino conditions develop it will most likely be weak but even a weak one may help to enhance the pineapple express and rainfall across California.
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist