The latest U.S. winter outlook spells trouble for dry California, but it shows how climate change is changing across the U.S. for the worse.
Climate-change models project more extreme winters for the U.S. and California in the coming decades. The latest U.S. winter outlook from Climate Central shows the last two winters in California with rain or thunderstorms. That’s the climate change equivalent of Florida this year getting a snow storm on February 7.
The report makes clear that we are heading for more wet years but warns that the rain and storms are more intense, and that they’ll be longer lasting. The average duration of the most intense rain event on record for the U.S. is 8.3 days. That’s six days longer than the average.
In California, the most likely future wet year (after 2080) in the climate-change scenario would be 2019. It would be wetter than 2004, which was the third-wettest year on record. Another wet winter (2085) would be wetter than 2001, which was the second-wettest.
The latest report is not the first time that California is shown in the climate-change models to be on the wrong side of the climate change race. The Pacific Institute at UCLA released its latest state-by-state climate predictions in 2018, predicting below-normal precipitation for California in at least five of the seven years ahead. (See the graphic below.)
Last week, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration could not rule out using a national monument in California to expand oil and gas pipelines if it came under attack. The administration had argued that the entire refuge would be put in jeopardy under the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power to establish national parks and wildlife refuges.
California’s climate-change-driven drought has been getting worse for a while. Even though there’s been only a wet month or so, the state is still in danger. That’s because the climate-change-driven drought is only getting started.
A wet June in California (for the most part) means less time for rain to fall. What the climate models predict is that we will get more dry years, and in the years ahead, there will be more rainy years for California.