Does a rain-free October signal a return to drought in California?

Nov 4, 2019 at 5:00pm

Los Angeles Times, Paul Duginski

“There are 200 different definitions of drought,” said climatologist Bill Patzert. “If you’re a firefighter with no rain in the month of October, and there are strong Diablo and Santa Ana winds, it’s a drought.”

Southern California got no rain during October, and it was desiccated by super-dry Santa Ana winds.

The jet stream that fed cold air into the Great Basin last week, fueling strong Diablo and Santa Ana winds in California, could have been delivering the first rain storms of the season from the Gulf of Alaska if it had been positioned about 500 miles to the west.

According to the Drought Monitor, almost one-fifth of California is either abnormally dry or in moderate drought, as of the end of October. It’s abnormally dry in portions of the eastern part of the state south of Lake Tahoe, and in the central Sierra. A strip of land along the Colorado River from about Lake Havasu south to the Mexican border is in moderate drought.

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