Oh Hail, CA Is Drought Free!

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Oh Hail, CA Is Drought Free!

All right already the rain can now stop! The snow pack is more than I can ever remember and it still looks like more could hit this season.

It truly is a nice thought that we are drought free for now, but we can’t loose sight of water conservation. In the past I’ve written blogs such as ‘Please Don’t Pick on the Pool Builder’ that have pointed out that having a pool doesn’t mean your property as a whole can’t be water wise. I am personally continuing to tighten up the water saving belt and still have a pool. We recently installed artificial turf in the front yard to permanently stop unneeded water use on a lawn. I installed a drain system that reintroduced any run off water on my property into the native soil instead of the gutter. We removed a fountain that was a waste of water and a maintenance issue at times. Newer appliances and fixtures are mandated to be water savers and energy savers. I’m glad to help you consider ways to become more water wise.

Good news, I’m excited about the upcoming river rafting season that has struggled in past years. Lakes that have been low and ugly will be full and beautiful. This weekend is the peak of the Wildflower Super Bloom in many areas in SoCal with many flowers yet to bloom as it warms up for Spring. We experienced an amazing migration of Pink Lady butterflies from Mexico that was a first for this 54 year native. Parts of Los Alamitos, Long Beach and Lakewood saw intense hail storm that dropped large hail balls. Thank you Amy Mora for this entertaining video.

Please share with us any extraordinary experiences you have witnessed due to this wet weather.

*Featured image from https://twitter.com/DigitalGlobe/status/1108441980567277573/photo/1

2017 vs 2018 – A Weather Comparison

In the middle of 2016, El Niño appeared to be a bust – in fact, we even wrote a blog about it which you can find here.  However, near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 California saw a historical downpour of rain that has helped alleviate the drought. In this blog, we are going to recap 2017’s historical year in California and look ahead towards 2018 and see what lies in store for us weather wise.

2017 Recap

  • The “water year” for California technically runs from October 1 to September 30, and this past year was one of the most wet years on record.
  • Precipitation exceeded 100 inches in higher elevations like the Sierra Nevada Mountains and amounts around 25-50 inches at lower elevations.
  • Snowpack in the mountains has increased dramatically along with reservoir levels with Lake Shasta around 73% full at the beginning of October – 23% higher than usual at that time of the year.
  • The precipitation was the highest on record across the Northern Sierra Mountains and second highest on record in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • As you can see on the drought monitor, this year has been huge in terms of alleviating the drought with 0% of California suffering from severe drought conditions or worse, while this number was almost 60% a year ago.

2018 Forecast

  • La Niña is currently brewing in the Pacific Ocean and is expected to impact California weather.
  • La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which we have spoken extensively about in the past which can be found here. La Niña typically brings cold and snowy conditions in the Pacific Northwest and drier weather in places like Southern California due to cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures along the equator in the Pacific. This means that we will likely have a dry winter in Southern California, but it may not be a terrible winter for all of California as a whole.
  • With this being said, the future of California weather is still unclear. As for what exactly will happen this year, the federal government’s sharpest weather minds cannot predict whether La Niña will leave California with less rain, more rain, or the normal amount. Looks like we are just going to have to wait and see what happens, but if a dry winter does occur you know La Niña is to blame.
  • If low rain were to occur, parts of California could return to drought like conditions; however, the conditions would be much less severe than they were years ago.

What do you think will happen? Let us know your prediction in the comments.

Weather Trends – Forecasts and Predictions…

Every year we hear the weathermen predicting this much rainfall and forecasting weather, but a majority of the time they are completely off in their predictions. Last year was supposed to be the saving year, the year of El Niño, but it ended up being a bust. However, this year it seems like it is raining multiple times a week. In this blog, we will look back on last year’s bust weather and also discuss our recent weather and its implications going for the drought going forward.

Last Year’s Weather

Low Water LevelsEl Niño was a bust. The rare weather pattern was supposed to bring us more rain and possibly lift the pressure off this drought, but that failed to happen. El Niño did help Northern California rebuilding the snowpack, but California only received about 60% of its average rainfall last year. In fact, about 21% of California was categorized as in exception drought at the beginning of this year’s water year at the end of September. However, one benefit of this low rainfall is the result it has had on this year’s weather. The small El Niño has led to a larger La Niña this fall, which is basically El Niño’s opposite.

Rain Patterns

CA Drought Levels

December was the wettest month recorded in downtown Los Angeles since December 2010. The percent of exceptional drought area in California has dropped 3% over the past 3 months and 18% of California is actually no longer considered abnormally dry while this number was 0% 3 months ago. Rain is always expected during this time of the year, but this year we seem to be receiving more than before. This rain is happily welcomed by most as it is only lessening the pressure of the drought. Once again, the drought is nowhere near over but a heavy rain year is always helpful.

Mountain Snow

The end of 2016 saw a huge increase in snowfall that is continuing into 2017. Granted, this snow is expected with the higher rainfall but 2016 saw a 52% increase in snowfall from 2015. Mammoth mountain saw 109 inches of snow in 2013 while 2016 brought 354 inches. This increase in snow is obviously awesome for ski resorts and those of us that love to ski, but this is also great news to the drought. Northern California snow melts and runs off into local giving us more water. Of course, once again this trend needs to continue to make a significant impact on the drought but we always love to see rain and snow.

Everyone thought last year, El Niño, was going to be the year California received a ton of rain and saved us from the drought, but that clearly was not the case. This year has brought us the most rain we have seen in years and all we can do is hope it keeps coming. This weather sure is whacky, as we wrote about in our previous blog, but we do love to see snow and rain. With that being said, this drought will continue for some time to come and we must always make sure we are conserving water and being water efficient.

Wacky Weather

If you are anything like us then you have probably been wondering what is up with this recent weather we have been having. It seems like one day it is gloomy and raining and the next the sun is shining with the perfect weather for a beach day. Some just say that this is typical Southern California weather, but we personally feel like this weather is wackier than ever. Despite being mainly a swimming pool company, we never want our clients to be discouraged by poor weather; thus, we are writing this blog article to talk about other ways you can enjoy your outdoor living space even when the weather is trying to stop you.

Add a Spa

We’ve said it before and we will say it again – there is nothing better than a spa in the winter. Whether it be cold weather or rain, nothing can stop you from enjoying a spa. A spa is a good investment because it can be used year round and can be enjoyed by every age group whether it be young kids, teenagers, or adults. Additionally, a spa does not take much maintenance and can be prepared for usage often remotely in less time than you may think.

Patio Cover

Outdoor KitchenThe awesome thing about Southern California is that even when it rains it is not necessarily cold. Oftentimes it can be warm enough to wear a short sleeve t-shirt outside, yet it will be raining – we find these types of days to be the best days for outdoor patio covers. With a patio cover you can sit outside and listen to the peaceful sound of the rain while remaining completely dry. You can even install a TV or BBQ outside and not worry about water damage or constantly putting on a cover if you have a patio cover.

Fire Feature

Another great way to stay warm in this cold wacky weather is through a fire feature. A fire pit or fireplace may not be of the best use in the rain but sitting outside in the cold next to a warm fire can be very relaxing and enjoyable. A fire feature has a wide range of purposes beyond this as well like roasting marshmallows or adding a nice aesthetic element to your backyard.

Oftentimes we expect year round nice weather because we live in Southern California, but this is not always the case. We recently have been having wacky weather causing us to wear a sweatshirt one day and shorts the next; however, this should not stop you from enjoying your outdoor living space. There are a variety of ways to enjoy your backyard even in the rain, so you should be thankful for the rain and its much needed presence in Southern California rather than resenting it as many people often do.

El What??? El Niño!

El Niño! It’s no surprise that we’re in a drought; however, many people are unaware of the upcoming event named El Niño. You may have heard of this phenomenon in movies like “Chasing Mavericks” because El Niño is known to cause massive waves, but El Niño is also likely to bring in a wave of much needed rain to the Southwest.

What causes El Niño?

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that is caused by the warming of tropical waters off the coasts of South America. This rarity occurs every 2-7 years as the trade winds weaken and even reverse causing warm water to flow eastward rather than the typical westward direction. This flow of warm water is very minimal and causes a temperature rise of only about 1 degree Fahrenheit along the equator, but the impacts of this temperature change are significant. The warmer water expands and causes sea level to rise anywhere from 6 to 13 inches, the colder water is unable to rise to the surface and wreaks havoc for fishing crops on the eastern coast of South America which rely on cold water, the jet stream drops further south due to low pressure and stronger storms causing larger waves right here in Southern California, and finally rainfall increases dramatically along the west coast of North and South America. In summary, El Niño is beneficial to us through the increase in rainfall and sizes of waves, but damaging to South America, as they are struck with severe storms, and Asia, as they suffer from harsh droughts.

So no more drought?

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Yes and no. El Niño means that we will likely be receiving a larger amount of rainfall, but this in no way means the drought is over. El Niño’s impact on rainfall is largely oscillatory meaning that it is never the same. Climatologists predict the upcoming El Niño will result in an increase in rainfall, but in truth they have little to no idea. This means that we could have anywhere from one to ten extra inches of rainfall which sounds nice but is not that beneficial in the long run. Thus, regardless of the upcoming El Niño’s effects, we will remain in a drought for years to come and the only way to solve this is through cutbacks on consumption. No single person can solve this drought – instead we have to work together and minimize water waste as a whole. I don’t know about you, but we here at Sunset sure are excited about the upcoming El Niño, but by no means does this mean that we are going home and taking 30 minute showers while we leave the sink running. During a drought every drop counts.