Agency expects extreme summer drought
The forecast by federal meteorologists is bad news for firefighters, who’ve had a busy winter and spring. No rain is likely until fall.
Federal meteorologists expect “extreme” drought conditions this summer in Southern California, offering more bad news for firefighters who are already dealing with record dry weather.
The forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dashed the hopes of some officials that the region’s bone-dry winter and spring would give way to a mild summer.
“We’ve gone from moderate to severe drought, and we’ve jumped to extreme,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
The evidence is clear: Both Lake Mead and Lake Powell on the Colorado River are at half capacity, Patzert said. Downtown L.A. has received less than 4 inches of rain this year and is set to claim a record for its driest season.
“We can pretty much count on no rain into the fall,” said Miguel Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.
This season’s dry spell has been caused in large part by a persistent high-pressure ridge over the eastern Pacific Ocean that has blocked many storms from hitting Southern California, Miller said. The few storms the region has experienced have fizzled because they came over land rather than over the ocean, he added.
Things won’t change this summer, Patzert said, noting that cooling temperatures on the eastern Pacific Ocean are leaving the region a weather pattern that brings drought conditions.
“We’re potentially looking at La Niña light,” Patzert said, dubbing it “the demon diva of drought.” Drought