A Drought By Any Other Name

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A Drought By Any Other Name

Drought. We know the word, but do we really know what it means? The basic definition of a drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, including the resulting shortage of water. A drought, though, is not a random act of weather. Geographic location determines climate patterns, which includes periods of drought for places like California.

Deserted By El Niño?

Most of California has a Mediterranean climate with arid/desert climates showing up as we head into San Bernardino county. So climate-wise, we tend to have hot/dry summers and mild, moderately rainy winters (less rainy in arid/desert California climes).

This year we were hoping that El Niño will bring an end to the drought (or at least put a big dent in it), and while we have gotten more rain than past years, the precipitation falls short of expectations. If you are unfamiliar with El Niño and La Niña...they are the warm and cool phases (respectively) of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific. This pattern can shift every two to seven years, and each phase triggers somewhat predictable changes in temperature, precipitation, and winds. These changes have a domino effect that makes its way over to different parts of the world (like California).

Technically, we can see El Niño rains into early summer, so there is still hope. The increase in precipitation this year (compared to those past) will certainly help raise the water table, even if it doesn’t end the drought. In addition, the melting snowpack in the Sierras (and other mountain ranges) will provide water during the drier summer months.

Conservation, Conservation, and...wait for it...Conservation

Even though we haven’t had enough rain to end the drought, there are many who have been calling for an end to, what they view, as drastic conservation measures. The shadow of drought always exists in California. It’s a cycle. In addition, water is a communal resource. Saving water is a community endeavor and a community responsibility.

Publish Date: 05/16/2016
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