Despite a couple of mild rains, we haven't seen any sizeable precipitation in some time. Craig Miller of KQED in San Francisco explains why:
You might’ve noticed a conspicuous absence lately: rain.
In fact, with a scant few days remaining in the month, much of Northern California is on track for a record-dry January. The winter storms that had us scrambling in December have largely dried up, raising the prospect of a fourth year of drought. We had two big bursts that qualify as atmospheric river storms and then … crickets.
If this sounds somewhat familiar, flash back to the beginning of 2013, when, after a similarly soggy December, almost in sync with the New Year’s ball dropping in Times Square, the tap suddenly shut off — and stayed off.
It turned out that a big, bloated bubble of high pressure had parked itself over the West Coast and did not move. It caught the eye of Daniel Swain, then a 23-year-old doctoral student in climate science at Stanford University.
“It was going on and on, well beyond that maximum that we normally see and persisting over months,” Swain recalls. “And not only over months but then recurring essentially over the course of two consecutive winter seasons.”
He started writing about it on his California Weather blog and decided to give it a name: the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. It stuck. In fact, the “Triple-R” as it’s now known in weather geek shorthand, has become enough of “a thing” that it has its own Wikipedia page.
We've discussed the "RRR" on this site before: Is this is a repeat of our unhappy experience in 2013 and 2014?.
“No,” California State Climatologist Mike Anderson told [Craig Allen of KQED] at a recent drought briefing. “This is very different from the pattern that set up last year, where we had a ridge that extended up into Canada, and was reinforced and lasted six weeks.”
“The pattern we’re in now is more of a transient pattern where you may see a ridge develop but it may just as easily break down,” Anderson continued. “In this case, the patterns that we see in the jet streams and the oceans are not all moving in the same direction to create such a ridge. The jet stream is in a position where it will push through and will have an easier time than it did last year.”
Boy do I hope Mr. Anderson is right.
Plus, Michelle L'Heureux writes for NOAA, chances of an El Nino are fading.