Below Normal Is the New Normal   Leave a comment

A Southern California newspaper reports that the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas is 20% of the normal amount for this time of year. Although the southern Sierra are faring slightly better than the northern parts of the range, “The lack of snow in the West continues what was the driest calendar year on record for Los Angeles in 2013, when only 3.60 inches of rain was recorded in the downtown/USC area, breaking the old record of 4.08 inches set in 1953.”

Another California paper adds, “Even more concerning to state water providers is the forecast. On New Year’s Eve, the National Weather Service predicted that California is likely to see below-average rainfall for the entire month of January.” “Streams and rivers across the state are depleted,” says the Sacramento Bee. “According to gauges maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey, only 25 percent of the 215 monitored streams had ‘normal’ water flow as of Friday, and 71 percent were below normal. About 21 percent are at unprecedented lows, a number that has doubled in the past two weeks.”

And I read in this morning’s New York Times of the Colorado River, diminished by 14 years of drought that “will reduce even more the level of Lake Mead, a crucial source of water for cities from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and for millions of acres of farmland.” As one official put it, agencies have continued to plan as if the old normal were still in effect. “There’s always been within the current planning an embedded hope that somehow, things would return to something more like normal.”

Old Normal, whither hast thou gone & why doth thou wither so?

 

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Sources: Grist (1/6/14); San Gabriel Valley Tribune (1/3/14); Sacramento Bee (1/6/14); New York Times 1/6/14)

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Posted January 6, 2014 by the meaning of rivers in Uncategorized

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