Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

NOAA Winter Outlook: California Drought Will 'Intensify,' Polar Vortex II 'Unlikely'

Climate

It looks like California and other regions of the Southwest that have been enduring drought for the past four years won't be getting any relief soon.

Image credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The winter weather forecast, released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), predicted warmer winter weather and little rain for the western part of the country, as well as Alaska, Hawaii and New England. The south, on the other hand, may be a little cooler, undoubtedly fueling a spate of op-ed pieces from climate denier columnists and politicians still insisting"global warming" is the only indicator of climate change. But the forecast says a repeat of last year's frigid winter is unlikely in most parts of the country that endured it.

"While drought may improve in some portions of the U.S. this winter, California's record-setting drought will likely persist or intensify in large parts of the state," said NOAA's forecast. "Nearly 60 percent of California is suffering from exceptional drought—the worst category—with 2013 being the driest year on record. Also, 2012 and 2013 rank in the top 10 of California’s warmest years on record, and 2014 is shaping up to be California’s warmest year on record. Winter is the wet season in California, so mountainous snowfall will prove crucial for drought recovery. Drought is expected to improve in California’s southern and northwestern regions, but improvement is not expected until December or January."

The forecast predicted drought would persist or possibly even get worse in some parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, while  "new drought development" is likely in northeastern Oregon, eastern Washington state and small areas of Idaho and western Montana.

“Complete drought recovery in California this winter is highly unlikely," said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. "While we’re predicting at least a two-in-three chance that winter precipitation will be near or above normal throughout the state, with such widespread, extreme deficits, recovery will be slow.

The winter weather forecast predicts drought in the west won't be easing significantly anytime soon. Image credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Last month, a study by researchers at California's Stanford University published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, used a combination of statistical analysis and computer simulations to show that greenhouse gases contributed to the extremely high pressure area or "blocking ridge" over California that diverted storms away from the state, leading to the record low rainfall and historic drought. An article on the Stanford website called it "one of the most comprehensive studies to investigate the link between climate change and California's ongoing drought."

The study's lead author Daniel Swain, who coined the term "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" to describe the high-pressure zone, said on his California Weather Blog, "Human-caused climate change has increased the likelihood of extremely high atmospheric pressure over the North Pacific Ocean, which suggests an increased risk of atmospheric patterns conducive to drought in California."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Drought Emergency Declared in California as Residents Urge Halt to Fracking

Gov. Jerry Brown Discusses Role of Climate Change in California's 10 Wildfires in the Past Week

Drought Intensifies in Western U.S.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A baby humpback whale tail slaps in the Pacific Ocean in front of the West Maui Mountains. share your experiences / Moment / Getty Images

The depths of the oceans are heating up more slowly than the surface and the air, but that will undergo a dramatic shift in the second half of the century, according to a new study. Researchers expect the rate of climate change in the deep parts of the oceans could accelerate to seven times their current rate after 2050, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Opinions vary among healthcare providers and the conditions of their patients, as well as the infection rate in their communities and availability of personal protective equipment. Aekkarak Thongjiew / EyeEm Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

Should you skip your annual checkup? The answer would have been a resounding "no" if you asked most doctors before the pandemic.

But with the risk of COVID-19, the answer isn't so clear anymore.

Read More Show Less
People wait in a queue at a snack bar at Island H2O Live! water park in Kissimmee, Florida on May 23 as the attraction reopens for Memorial Day weekend after closing for the coronavirus pandemic. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Viral images of thousands of people eschewing the recommendations of medical experts and epidemiologists were on full display in the U.S. over Memorial Day weekend. In Missouri, St. Louis County officials called the images of crowds gathered at pool parties at bars and yacht clubs in the Lake of the Ozarks an "international example of bad judgment," according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
Only the paper part of a drink carton would be recycled everything else, including the plastic coating or layer or aluminum foil, would be incinerated as residual waste. tavan amonratanasareegul / Getty Images

By Jeannette Cwienk

When it comes to recycling and recyclability, very little, it seems is straightforward — even something as seemingly simple as orange juice can present a conundrum. In Germany, many smaller shops sell drinks in cartons or plastic bottles, both of which will end up in the yellow recycling bin. But how do their recycling credentials stack up?

Read More Show Less
A field of organic lettuce grows at a sustainable farm in California. thinkreaction / Getty Images

By Stephanie Hiller

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the future of the Cannard Family Farm—whose organic vegetables supplied a single Berkeley restaurant—was looking stark.

Read More Show Less
Nearly 200 Canadian organizations rolled out their demands for a "just recovery." DKosig / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Nearly 200 Canadian organizations on Monday rolled out their demands for a "just recovery," saying that continuing business-as-usual after the pandemic would prevent the kind of far-reaching transformation needed to put "the health and well-being of ALL peoples and ecosystems first."

Read More Show Less

Trending

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage in Edmonton on Friday, April 24, 2020. Chris Schwarz / Government of Alberta / Flickr

Anti-pipeline protests work.

That's the implication behind comments made by Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage Friday on how coronavirus social distancing requirements could ease the construction of Canada's controversial Trans Mountain Expansion project.

Read More Show Less