It's been day and night comparing rainfall between northern and southern California through the first week of December.
While Northern California stands at 112 percent of average for this date, the Tulare Basin is only 39 percent of average. The beleaguered city of Ventura stands at just 1.5 percent of average rain for this date says the National Weather Service.
High pressure across the state this month is blocking any storm system in the Pacific from coming in at least until Dec 22.
Steve Haugen, watermaster on the Kings River, says Pine Flat Dam has received only 1.07 inches of precipitation so far compared to an average of 3.31 inches or 32 percent of average.
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Just published this week, new research by scientists at Lawrence Livermore and UC Davis are connecting the loss of Arctic sea ice to precipitation-inducing winter storms being steered away from California by a persistent atmospheric ridging system in the North Pacific. The study in the publication Nature says on average over a 20-year period, there would be a 10–15 percent decrease in California’s rainfall, similar to the extended drought we experienced from 2012-2016. It is sobering to think that the loss of ice is related to high-pressure and bone-dry conditions we are seeing this week, to disastrous results for the people of southern California.
Back in our area, Haugen is not panicking knowing "one good storm could take the Kings number to average.”
Further, the storage carryover this year in our Central Sierra reservoirs is about 400,000 area feet due to the wet year we had in 2017. That compares to just 50,000 area feet carryover the year before.
Then there is the groundwater banked in the Valley-based Kings watershed from January through September. Haugen estimates that could add up to an additional 1 million acre-feet available to the county.