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DWR Endorses NOAA’s Recognition of Need To Improve Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting

SACRAMENTO — The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today welcomed NOAA’s  recognition of the need to  support DWR and other agencies with improved seasonal predictions of precipitation to facilitate water management during California’s four-year drought.  Governor Brown’s January 2014 proclamation of a drought emergency specifically directed DWR to improve seasonal climate forecasting and drought prediction.

The recently-completed NOAA California Drought Service Assessment contains more than three dozen findings and recommendations that NOAA said may lead to improved and more tailored data products and tools, such as weather forecasts and climate models.

Vice Admiral Michael Devany, NOAA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and executive sponsor of the report, said the findings “underscore NOAA’s important role in providing businesses and communities with the environmental intelligence – or timely, reliable and actionable information – to remain resilient to extreme events.

“The feedback outlined in this report will help NOAA service communities and businesses in California as they continue to grapple with the worst drought in its history,” he said.

DWR Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones said better sub-seasonal and seasonal precipitation forecasting has been a long-sought goal to assist DWR and other water management agencies. She said one example would be “predicting when atmospheric river storms are likely to occur 30-60 days in advance. Achieving that breakthrough would be a remarkable advance in forecasting skill,” she said. 

Atmospheric river storms are water-laden storms that originate in the Pacific Ocean’s tropical zone and deliver so much water to California that the state can flip from drought to flooding in a matter of days. Jones said atmospheric rivers frequently have been drought busters. “Knowing if 2016 will be wet or dry would be extremely useful for drought response and recovery actions”, Jones said.

According to NOAA’s assessment, the annual snowpack in the Central and Northern Sierra Nevada provides the vast majority of water for California. A seasonal forecast for the total precipitation in those areas could go a long way in answering the most enduring question: “How much water will we get this year?”

This is the fourth year of California’s drought. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov.

Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com.

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