Many years of surplus rains and snow is needed to improve the climate conditions!

Wildfires, water shortages, and record drought have been seen in the western US, and the forecast is not much brighter. A new water year began Friday, resetting the clock for many states hoping to start anew and see better results. The water year is defined as October 1 – September 30. The 12 months is selected because it is the ideal rest period in terms of the US water cycle. October 1 presented an excellent natural break for many regions of the US. After the monsoon rain peaks in the Southwest, it is after the Northeast and Midwest before the bulk snow begins, and for the Southeast, tropical cyclones wind down.

For some locations end of the water, the year was quite good. Tucson, Arizona, had its 3rd wettest monsoon record. Tucson picked up a whopping 12.79″ of rain from June 15 through September 30. In September, the rains in Washington state were more than plentiful. More than 3 inches of rain was seen in Seattle. 4 inches of rain was seen in Bellingham. The rains helped eliminate wildfires in Arizona and Washington but were not enough to stop drought conditions entirely.

To deal with long-term drought across the Southwest, many years of both a wet winter and wet monsoon season are needed. Most western states are similar. California, the condition is too similar. Sacramento has gone 196 days without measurable rain and broke the record for the longest dry streak. Bakersfield’s recent water year was the 5th driest on record and for San Francisco’s need as the 2nd driest on record.

Total precipitation across the region was extremely bad for 2nd consecutive year. While every bit of rain helps in reducing the drought, many years of low precipitation can lead to water shortages. A new report from NOAA highlights the widespread impacts of decades of water issues. The report stated, “This exceptional drought—marked by massive water shortages, destructive wildfires, emergency declarations, and the first-ever water delivery shortfall among the states sharing the Colorado River—punctuates a two-decade warm and dry period that has baked the Southwest.”

From California to Colorado, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs sat at deficient levels. High elevation snow and many years of above-average rain are needed to refill reservoirs, rivers, and soil. More than 60 million people depend on this water. The main requirement of California and other western states is many years of surplus rains and snow. Snow can have often had a more significant impact than rain when building up the water supply.

Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Arizona have experienced in 2020 and 2021 successive dry and warm winter seasons and in 2020 failed summer monsoon. These states had their lowest precipitation from January 2020 to August 2021. From northern California to North Dakota, the forecast in a short period looks good.

The CPC forecast 6-14 days out shows above-average rainfall estimates. The concern is the long-term forecast. Recently CPC issued its three-month projection for October through December. According to the projection, for the Pacific Northwest, rainfall chances seem to be slightly above average. From southern California through Colorado, it will be the opposite.

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