03 Aug 2015:
California Has Missed Equivalent
Of Full Year of Rain in Ongoing Drought
U.S. Drought Monitor
Drought conditions in the U.S. West
Over the past three years of severe drought, California has accumulated a rain "debt" equal to a year's worth of precipitation, NASA researchers report
in the Journal of Geophysical Research — Atmospheres
. The state is roughly 20 inches behind in total precipitation, the scientists calculate, which is the average amount expected to fall in the state in a single year. The deficit has been driven primarily by a lack of extreme precipitation events known as atmospheric rivers — water vapor-rich air currents that move inland from the Pacific Ocean — which, in an average year, provide 20 to 50 percent of California's precipitation. The researchers found that California also had a 27.5-inch precipitation deficit between 1986 and 1994. However, the state's population, industries, agriculture, and water demand have grown significantly since that time, so the current rain debt is placing more extreme pressure on the state's water reserves.
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