Good morning, Spartans. I sometimes try to mix up open thread topics, so we don’t get too monofocused on Trump and politics. I’ve been watching the weather situation in California with considerable interest, as the effects of their drought have been making the national news for the past several years. And it’s also been interesting just how quickly the drought unraveled, taking the state from dry to sodden:
San Francisco’s total rainfall surpassed normal for a full season as of 5 a.m. Monday.
Average rainfall for a season, running October 1 to September 31, is 23.65 inches.
S.F. had seen 24.38 inches as of this morning. The total reached this benchmark after a moisture-packed storm driven by an atmospheric river walloped Northern California. The City by the Bay received nearly an inch in 24 hours.
It’s nearly impossible to exaggerate this milestone after five seasons marked by drought and below-average rainfall.
“We haven’t even reached rainfall in an entire season in five years,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. “The fact that we’ve gotten there in the middle of February is noteworthy.”
A series of weather systems known as atmospheric rivers have blasted Northern California since the start of the year, resulting in impressive rainfall totals around the Bay Area.
One of the reasons I find the situation in California so interesting is because it is a mirror image of the Texas flooding from 2015. For those that remember, Texas was under a similar nasty drought, which was also ended very abruptly with ultra-heavy rainfall. This 2015 article from Wired lays it out:
Texas really can’t seem to catch a break. A month ago, the Lone Star state was in the middle of a dry emergency: Its reservoirs were draining, its depleted aquifers were sucking in the earth above. As of Wednesday, though, the state is saturated. Four weeks of dousing storms have swept away property, roads, lives, and prompted governor Greg Abbott to declare 37 counties as disaster areas.
The devastation caused by these floods is heart-wrenching. But you could consider Texas’ weather whiplash to be a good thing: These dousing storms, which seem more and more like the consequence of a strengthening El Niño, have brought an end to a four-year water shortage. Just how much of a silver lining these floods are creating, though, depends on the particular geography of Texas’ different regions—it is a gigantic place, y’all. And the land’s composition also plays a crucial role in just how bad the flooding has gotten.
There is a particularly funny line near the end of the article:
So, could other states benefit from a big drought-busting, El Niño driven megastorm? Not quite. “If you had rain like this in California I’d call it a wet drought,” says Kaiser. For one, California gets most of its water from snow stored in the mountains. And most of its reservoirs are in the northern part of the state. If Texas-style floods did hit, they’d come south, wash out places like LA and San Diego, then run off to sea with little catchment.