It's raining again here. Normally I would be unhappy about this (I still disapprove of stuff falling from the sky), but the dire news warnings about California's drought have finally penetrated my anti-rain bias, so I'm at least a little happy about it.
(For those who haven't seen the dire news warnings, the short version is that we're in year three of a drought, rainfall continues to be below average, we have way more people than we did last time there was a drought, and a lot more farmland (than last time) is devoted to crops that can't be fallowed. I just saw an article that said something like 40,000 farm-related workers might be out of work this year as a result. The governor has asked us all to cut back on our water use by 20%.)
Anyway, so I'm paying more attention to rain-related news now than I was a few weeks ago. So every time it rains, I want to find out how much it's raining, and to what degree it helps, and whether it's above or below the normal rainfall for this time of year.
And I found that info frustratingly difficult to locate. There are pages that show average-monthly-rainfall charts for California (though I just saw two of those with wildly different numbers), but I couldn't find a page that juxtaposes that info with monthly-rainfall-so-far-this-year numbers.
Eventually, I found the California Drought Update 2009 page at the UCSD California Climate Change Center's website; that shows much of the kind of thing I'm looking for (though not in the exact form I wanted), but it was last updated on January 30. Still, it does use the word "SNOTEL," and it does have pretty-but-scary colored maps showing how much of CA has been below 50% of normal precipitation over the past two years, so it's worth taking a look at.
Finally, I followed some links from that page and got pretty much the info I was looking for. But since it was hard to find, I figured I'd post a blog entry pointing to it, in hopes that it would help both interested persons and search engines find the stuff.
The main key I was missing is that there's a large amount of data at the CA Department of Water Resources website.
Here are some specific relevant links, both at that site and elsewhere:
- Drought Conditions page, including a list of suggestions on ways to reduce water use.
- Daily Drought Information Summary has tables showing most of the info I was looking for, more or less.
- The related Executive Update page shows a higher-level at-a-glance view, though it's about a week old right now. A week ago, the northern Sierra region was at 83% of average precipitation for the "rainfall year" that started in October, 2008.
- There's a nice daily-updated graph of Northern Sierra precipitation, showing not only the current and average, but several specific particularly wet and particularly dry years.
- California Statewide Water Conditions has links to a bunch of useful info and reports.
- US Drought Monitor (not at CA DWR site) has a useful nationwide map, plus links to animations and such.
- Western Regional Climate Center (also not at CA DWR site) looks like it has useful/relevant info, but I haven't looked at it in detail.