Those concerned about California’s record-breaking drought received four pieces of bad news this week.
First, the state’s drought conditions did not improve at all. For another week, an unprecedented 23.5 percent of California is experiencing the worst drought category -– exceptional drought. And nearly 69 percent of the state is still either under extreme or exceptional drought. And a remarkable 95 percent of the state is still suffering from severe drought or worse.
Second, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported a stunning loss of snowpack due to extreme warmth:
Another dry week over much of the western United States … and in California, temperatures were 9–12 degrees above normal. This was detrimental to the low snowpack as some areas of California lost half of the snow water equivalence (SWE) in a single week….
Third, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicted that the drought in California — and indeed in much of the Southwest — will either persist or worsen in the next three months:
Fourth, as Climate Progress reported Tuesday, a major new study found “a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge [of high pressure] during winter 2013–14, the associated drought and its intensity.” If this result stands up, it suggests future California droughts will keep getting longer and stronger if we don’t reverse carbon pollution emissions trends ASAP.
The only bright spot in recent news is that we still appear headed towards an El Niño, which “may suggest wet conditions in California later this year.” Of course, an El Niño typically means dangerously extreme weather in other parts of the world — especially if it turns out to be a super El Niño as some forecast. Thanks to our greed and myopia, our children and future generations face an ever worsening plague of extreme weather events.