Whack weather: Drought on one coast, snowstorms on the other


Olive Lopez

San Francisco, CA: The San Francisco skyline, taken from the top floor of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Mission Street in downtown San Francisco.

It doesn’t take a meteorologist to know our weather is whack. Here in San Francisco, our summer is winter, and our hot days fall somewhere between fog-filled August and no-sun November. A little sunshine in February never hurt anyone, right? Well, it may not be that simple.

The year 2013 was California’s driest year since rainfall began being recorded in 1894. This winter, the Bay Area has seen less than 10 percent of its usual rain.

State public health officials are warning that without relief, many water districts will run out within the next 100 days.

While a few days of stormy weather did alleviate some of the short-term consequences of the drought, the assistance will be short-lived without more rain. According to SFgate.com, “forecasters say rain would have to fall every day through May — and heavily — to bring conditions back to normal.”

Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters in January that “(w)e are in an unprecedented, very serious situation.” He called on residents to cut “at least 20 percent of their water use.”

While the rest of the country is bombarded with snow, the drought shows no signs of improving. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is having its 5th-snowiest winter ever. By contrast, in California, The National Weather Service estimated that there is only a 1 in 1000 chance that the drought will end in the spring. That is to say, Californians will likely be in the current weather pattern for the long haul.

While describing San Francisco’s weather is difficult due to its lack of consistency, there is no denying that the weather has changed. Bill Patzert, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory remarked, “There is no California winter postcard.”

“If you showed me (a picture of San Francisco) without the date I would say, “This is in early fall after a long, hot summer, before the fall and winter rains and snows arrived,” Batzert was quoted as saying on a newsblog at Yahoo.com.

While many are quick to blame the drought on global warming, scientists are hesitant. According to The New York Times, “(t)he most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter, when the state gets the bulk of its precipitation. That has prompted some of the leading experts to suggest that climate change most likely had little role in causing the drought.”