California raises wine glasses in toast of rain

California raises wine glasses in toast of rain

If those who follow the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) weather forecasting model are right, the recent river of rain to take aim on California won’t shut off too soon.

On Dec. 1 satellite maps showed a good train of moisture aimed at the Golden State. This train runs southwest to the Equator and across to the International Date Line.

Those of us in California know what that could mean.

According to a forecast map on the WeatherBell Analytics website the San Joaquin Valley could get several inches of rain over the next 32 days with double-digit rainfall amounts in northern California. The heaviest rain looks to be on California’s north coast where some places could get upwards of 20 inches of rain over the next month.

Bring it on!

Even the Los Angeles Basin could get several inches of rain over the next month, according to the ECMWF maps used by WeatherBell.

As I write this on Dec. 2 reports are already in that Fresno had more rain today than it did all of last month. By early afternoon Tuesday Stockton reported an inch of rain on the day and the Los Angeles River is not open to unsanctioned races and traffic as water is flowing wildly, according to one Twitter post I saw.

Bring. It. On!

California’s need for rain is self-evident, but even if it comes as forecasted it’s not going to solve the state’s water woes – not in the short-term. It’s still a step in the right direction as state water regulators announced earlier today a 10 percent allocation to state water contractors. That can change either way depending on how the winter goes.

In the meantime let’s raise our wine glasses in toast to the precipitation: any excuse to drink wine.

Aside from turning the tide on the state’s diminishing reservoirs and making the air more breathable in the Central Valley growers should benefit as the rain should help leach years of accumulated salts in their permanent crops that are an unintended negative consequence of water-thrifty technologies such as drip and micro irrigation.

While we don’t want to look a gift-horse in the mouth, the hope is that these weather systems remain cold enough to bank dozens of feet of snow in the mountains instead of limiting it to zones above 10,000 feet.

That’s what happened in the massive El Nino of 1998 as feet of rain, not snow, fell at 10,000 feet elevation. Water washed down the Sierra so quick that reservoirs could not hold it back and water overtopped dams.

The good news appears to spread into the Colorado River watershed as the ECMWF indicate significant precipitation there as well. That should make all those with straws in the Colorado River happy as lakes Mead and Powell have reached significant lows this year.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of a wet season that brings steady rain and snow to a state responsible for much of America’s agricultural production.

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