I’ve heard some people argue vehemently that we could be facing “the perfect drought.” (See LA City Beat, 6/14/07, [The Perfect Drought] or Reuters, 4/2/07 [In record dry spell LA fears the perfect drought]).
I’ve heard others tell me that “we’re not technically having a drought.” During the Griffith Park fire back in May [More on KTLA], one of the things mentioned by Markland (both in person to me at the b.la garage sale and on blogging.la) was that was that the LADWP was saying that there was no drought. During the coverage about the fire, Markland made the following comment…
…Hal Fishman [RIP, Hal Fishman] said “We’re not in a severe drought, we’re in an EXTREME drought.”
I spoke with the DWP a couple weeks ago who said it would take a couple years of minimal rainfall for the city of L.A. to be in a technical drought.
Yet a month later, in June, 5000! made a post [Not a drop to drink] about this being “Los Angeles’ driest year since we began keeping records in 1872. That’s 135 years! According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, [a joint effort between federal and academic partners], the region is now in an “extreme” drought state, the second-driest ranking bestowed by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.” (The California chart and map is from the NDMC U.S. Drought Monitor released on 09/20/2007. You can drill in on the U.S. map down to detailed state information.)
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook Report which provides the drought tendency for the U.S. over a 3 month period. (See the brown/green U.S. map shown)
National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC) also does Drought Monitoring and releases a weekly “Long Term Palmer” report.
The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and Crop Moisture Index (CMI) are indices of the relative dryness or wetness effecting water sensitive economies. The data is provided in graphical and tabular formats, for the contiguous United States. (The orange/yellow/green US Map shown at the top of the entry)
Using the insights of various organizations, a weekly drought assessment called the U.S. Drought Monitor is released every Thursday.
On each Thursday, the CPC, together with the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, and NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, issues a weekly drought assessment called the United States Drought Monitor. The Monitor provides a consolidated depiction of national drought conditions based on a combination of drought indicators and field reports. The [National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center] CPC issues the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook each month in conjunction with the release of the long-lead temperature and precipitation outlooks on the third Thursday of each month. Updates to the Seasonal United States Drought Outlook are issued the first Thursday of each month.
I’m not sure who gets to determine when there is or isn’t “technically” a drought, but with all due respect to Markland, I’m going to trust these federal sources, whose primary business is studying, observing, and reporting on droughts, over somebody over at the LADWP. (Although I’m not sure what the LADWP stands to gain by not admitting there is a drought.)
I believe the facts point to a drought here in L.A., and this could have impacts to our local fire seasons, snow fall/ski seasons, our [potentially mandatory] water conservation efforts, and more. In my personal opinion, we need a lot more of the weather we had last night (rain) to mitigate the conditions we’re experiencing in Southern California. Regardless, “drought” or “no drought,” we ought to behave as though we live in a desert (oh wait! we do!) when it comes to our water consumption.
[If anyone is curious, of all the sources I referenced for this post, the most comprehensive is the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center’s CPC U.S. Drought Monitor.]
Images above clickable to enbigable. Courtesy of:
–National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Drought Monitoring – Palmer Reporting
–National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) – U.S. Drought Monitor
–National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook Report