Worst drought ever to hit California could rival the historic 2011 Texas drought

Feb 11, 2014 by Keith Randall
Like Texas, California is experiencing a historic drought. Credit: Shutterstock

(Phys.org) —The worst drought ever to hit California could rival the historic 2011 drought that devastated Texas, says a Texas A&M University professor.

John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences who also serves as Texas' State Climatologist, says the current in California is so far comparable in many ways to the 2011 Texas drought, the worst one-year drought in the state's history that caused more than $10 billion in damages and led to numerous wildfires and lake closings.

"This is the third year of California's drought and it is on pace to be as as Texas was in 2011," Nielsen-Gammon, a California native who grew up in the San Francisco area, explains.

"However, because our severe drought year came at the beginning of the drought, reservoirs across much of the state were full. In California, reservoir levels were low to begin with.

"In addition, they are dealing with environmental flows through the Sacramento Delta that weren't explicitly laid out until a few years ago."

Weather patterns for both states appear similar, he adds.

"The same ridge that has kept California dry has also been keeping Texas dry," he notes. "As the pattern changes, California is finally getting some rain and snow and the chances for precipitation in Texas are increasing as well."

California's drought is especially worrisome because the state produces about one-half of the country's fruits, vegetables and nuts. It is the No.1 agricultural state in the U.S.

The 2011 drought devastated Texas farmers and ranchers, and lake levels were down as much as 50 feet in some lakes while several West Texas lakes completely dried up.

Numerous Texas cities set heat records in 2011, such as Wichita Falls, which recorded 100 days of 100-degree heat, the most ever for that city. Dallas also set a record with 70 days of 100-degree heat.

Texas' drought is now in its fourth year, Nielsen-Gammon says, and about 52 percent of Texas is still in some form of drought status, ranging from moderate to exceptionally dry.

"January was unusually dry with an average of only about one-half an inch of precipitation statewide," he adds.

"Reservoir levels have actually declined at a time when they should be rising. So the drought is still here. In fact, the prevalence of drought in Texas has not dropped below 40 percent since 2010 when this drought first started."

The Texas Panhandle area has been especially hard hit.

"The past three calendar years have been among the driest three on record for the Panhandle," he notes. "Dalhart shattered its record with just 20.54 inches total in 2011-2013.

"This current drought started with more intensity than the drought of 1950-56, the driest on record. We again have a generally warm Atlantic Ocean, and that tends to mean dry conditions. An El Nino (warmer water in the tropical Pacific Ocean) might develop later this year, but it's still a little too early to say."

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User comments : 4

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The Shootist
1 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2014
For 50 years, starting with Pat Brown, the leftists have failed to develop a cohesive policy to provide potable water to California. Now they are experiencing the cost of their anti-human environment follies.

Drill wells, build nuclear desalination/power plants and dam every river you can find, you stupid watermelons.
PluviAL
1 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2014
California can resolve its water conundrums by simply building a Pluvinergy powerplant within ten years. West Texas is a different story. They could benefit from 4th generation powerplants, but that is 50 years into the future.
The better solution for Texas and the Midwest, and thus for the world's food issues over the next 80 years, is for Canada to transport to US a little bit of the 25% of the world's rainfall that it gets, and that wastes into the sea. The transport could be used for hydraulic storage of vast wind energy from the Midwest. It would also be a much better export product than CO2 intensive tar-sands oil XL pipe line.
But I am not holding my breath, I get the feeling Canada cares more for its sense of doing good for the environment despite reality, than actually doing good for civilization. Sorry Canada, it is not a pretty sight from out here. USA, on the contrary is not as bad as it looks, we dither, but we act correctly if you check the direction of our statistics.
no fate
5 / 5 (2) Feb 12, 2014
Pluvial needs a reaility check. If the US reduced it's yearly military budget to the level of Canada's, you could build 100 desalination plants AND operate them for 20 years, with just 1 years expenditures.

http://en.wikiped...ant#Cost

After the government uses this money to help it's people, you have a leg to stand on when criticizing the policies or lack thereof of other nations.
rockwolf1000
3 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2014
For 50 years, starting with Pat Brown, the leftists have failed to develop a cohesive policy to provide potable water to California. Now they are experiencing the cost of their anti-human environment follies.

Drill wells, build nuclear desalination/power plants and dam every river you can find, you stupid watermelons.

You must be the dumbest, stupidest, most ignorant and foolish retard that ever walked the earth.

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