As California struggles through a run of historically dry weather, most residents are looking at falling reservoir levels, dusty air and thirsty lawns.
But meteorologists have fixed their attention on the scientific phenomenon they say is to blame for the emerging drought: a vast zone of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast, nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long, so stubborn that one researcher has named it the "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge."
The mass of high air pressure has been blocking Pacific winter storms from coming ashore in California, deflecting them into Alaska and British Columbia, even delivering rain and cold weather to the East Coast. Similar high-pressure zones pop up all the time during most winters, but they usually break down, allowing rain to get through to California. This one has anchored itself for 13 months, since December 2012, making it unprecedented in modern weather records and puzzling researchers.
"It's like the Sierra -- a mountain range just sitting off the West Coast -- only bigger," said Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey, Calif. "This ridge is sort of a mountain in the atmosphere. In most years, it comes and goes. This year it came and didn't go."
The current high-pressure ridge is even stronger and more persistent than a similar ridge that parked over the Pacific Ocean during the 1976-77 drought, one of the worst in the 20th century.
Scientists know that changes in temperature cause high- and low-pressure zones around the world. In many ways, air works like water. The deeper you swim in the ocean, the stronger the water pressure, because the weight of the water above is pressing down on the water below. Air in the atmosphere also has weight, and as temperatures of the ocean and land fluctuate, the atmospheric pressure also changes, helping drive much of our weather.
What researchers don't know is why the current high-pressure ridge is so persistent, or when it is going away, allowing California to enjoy some much-needed rain. A few scientists say that it may be related to climate change, but nobody knows for sure.
"I wish I had a really good answer for this," said Daniel Cayan, an oceanographer and atmospheric scientist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. "It's unusual for the pattern to have not broken down to allow some relatively active, vigorous winter storm systems to track across California."
With each passing week, California's lack of rainfall becomes more serious. (continued...)
© 2014 San Jose Mercury News (CA) under contract with YellowBrix. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2014-02-22 @ 12:16pm PT
See. It's not ONE or the OTHER. There is both Global Warming and Weather Manipulation going on at the same time.
Most of the time reports are designed to be intentionally fuzzy so people won't figure out what is going.
Then people who are seeking the truth but have weak hearts will be turned off from being awakened.
This fighting and bickering is what the enemy wants to tear us apart. Divide and Conquer all rich nations is the name of the game so we will become a Class 1 Totalitarian Planet but have to wait till the technology is available and people want it.
Start a few false flags here and there like I dunno how about trying to melt the polar ice caps to get resources hidden underneath for political control over the rich nations so we will become poor like Brazil and Africa in which drugs is the main trade.
Posted: 2014-02-03 @ 3:11pm PT
You weather guys like to imagine that you know everything about weather and climate since you have a fancy degree. Well if you weather guys were even half as accurate at predicting the weather as my no-degree auto mechanic is at predicting what will happen if I don't get my brakes fixed, we wouldn't need to spend time speculating on "sites such as this one". So let the speculation continue by the "lunatic fringe".
Posted: 2014-02-01 @ 12:47pm PT
Why is obnoxious ignorance so common in comment sections? Firstly, we should all be a little more informed about global warming by now--it is changing major patterns and affecting air mass source regions, not just "warming" up your local sensible weather. Secondly, we should rely a little more on experts who have studied climate and the very long term records (tree rings, fossils, ice cores, etc) when making silly comments about how recent climatology is so extraordinary. Thirdly, why must we suffer the goofy lunatic fringe in every comment section? Genuine scientists (I was a weather forecaster and observer for over 23 years) tend to stay away from sites such as this one because of the useless babble. However, we could really benefit from their knowledge and expertise. Do you consult with the uneducated, sociopathic, tinfoil hat wearing, wackadoodles about automotive maintenance, or dental care, or tax preparation? I didn't think so....
Posted: 2014-01-23 @ 8:19pm PT
Yes. And I would tell those manipulating the weather that they are insulting those giving their lives trying to find a single natural phenomena to explain unnatural weather modifications.
Posted: 2014-01-23 @ 5:06am PT
If they were playing a haap wouldn't they make it rain in Cali?
Posted: 2014-01-21 @ 5:15pm PT
Since the Jet Stream is pointing to Alaska towards HAARP, I believe that is the cause of the drought.
Posted: 2014-01-21 @ 6:12am PT
G; that's pretty insulting....perhaps you could learn a little more...scientists on a ship studying climate change in the Antarctic getting trapped in the ice in the Antarctic summer so badly that ice breakers were unable to get it out......brrrrrrr
Posted: 2014-01-21 @ 1:18am PT
Watch the skies a little closer people. I’ve been in aviation for years and the trail blazing we see going on almost daily over our skies are not simple engine vapor contrails by any stretch. These trails have very few behavioral characteristics that follow normal contrails as we have known them to behave over the years. I could provide a list of major differences. Coincidently, the air force themselves has said that their aim is to “own the weather” by 2025. So it's not like they're keeping their intention any secret. They have a pdf online, you can read about their objectives very easily.
There is no doubt that natural global conditions are influencing the droughts we see, but let’s think for a minute what would happen if all these overcasting hazy particles we are seeing were somehow superheated by something like a HAARP system so they acted like as an accumulative “tent” to increase pressure enough for upward air and moisure flow to be kept relatively contained. What if it could also act to keep this massive ridge in place?? Hmm, there is a lot we don’t know isn't there? This would not be the first time a people or land were used as test objects. And there is nothing benevolent about this.
Posted: 2014-01-20 @ 9:21am PT
Seriously. Their minds ARE made up. Climate Change brings climate DISRUPTION. Which means that weather of all kinds can get more extreme, and also that certain seasonal weather patterns become prolonged. The jet stream has been quite low and lazy due to a warming Arctic, creating situations where these high pressure zones just sit there for months without budging. Please, learn something.
Posted: 2014-01-18 @ 7:23pm PT
Everyone always blames global warming. The scientists all say "Oh, it's warm during the winter?, It's global warming". "We're in a drought? It's global warming"."It's warm in the winter? It's global warming" Make up your minds' guys!
Posted: 2014-01-16 @ 11:03pm PT
The experts don't know why this pattern is persisting. The experts maybe need to be open-minded. HAARP. Tesla tech, engineering the flow of the jet stream and the ability to affect the tempreture and density of the atmosphere by engineering Pacific ocean density and surface temps!
Experts, why don't you look into this! Ask the ham radio operators, they are hearing strong signals comming from Alaska and potentially the Gulf of Mexico as well!