Weather Service Report

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Drought Information Statement 
National Weather Service Hanford CA 
1140 PM PDT Thu Jul 29 2021



The California Drought Monitor, released July 29, 2021 showed much 
of the central California interior in an exceptional drought (D4). 
A small portion of westernmost Merced County and the Mojave desert
were the only exclusions which remain categorized in an extreme 
drought (D3) classification. 

On May 10th, Governor Newsom issued an Emergency Drought Declaration*
for all 7 counties within the central California interior. The
counties that were included in the governor's declaration included 
Mariposa County, Merced County, Madera County, Fresno County, Tulare 
County, Kings County and Kern County. The emergency drought declaration
allows growers in these counties to ask for federal disaster funding. 
As of this writing, 41 of the state's 58 counties were on Governor
Newsom's emergency drought proclamation list. A statewide drought 
declaration could result in widespread cutbacks in urban water use and
lead to stricter water conservation measures if the drought continues
for several more months or years.  

The combination of dry weather and well above normal temperatures so 
far this Summer has worsened the drought across much of the central
California interior during the past several weeks.  Wells continue
to dry up in the San Joaquin Valley and there is increased water 
demand for irrigation needs in the agricultural communities. In the
meantime, water levels continue to lower in the reservoirs. In fact,
water levels have beccome so low in some of the lakes that boats are
being removed from the marinas. There is still a concern that low water
levels will limit the amount of hydroelectric power the state can 
generate for its customers. 

Meanwhile, unusually low flows and stages were being observed on many 
rivers throughout central California and were comparable to the
drought years of 2014 through 2016. The Merced River at Stevinson,
for example, had a historically low flow this week that hasn't been
observed since the first week of August in 1977. Along varying 
stretches of some rivers, the water was only ankle deep or nothing
more than puddles in places. 

Central California's drought has severely impacted the agricultural
industry where astronomical economic losses are anticipated by this
Fall. Thousands of acres of fields have been allowed to go fallow
this year due to the lack of water. In areas of the valley where water
allocations are extremely limited, farmers are growing bumper crops
that are more drought tolerant. Additionally, the drought has greatly
cut back the hiring of field workers that would normally be needed for
crop maintenance through late Summer and early Autumn harvesting. Cattle 
ranchers are being forced to reduce their herds because they do not
have enough hay to feed them. The drought has also put a stress on
valley beekeepers who normally rely on cover crops to serve as a 
source of pollination for their honey bees through the Summer. There
are many other crops too numerable to mention that have been reduced 
in size because of the water shortage. 

Hotter than normal temperatures during the past several weeks have 
dried vegetation to early Fall levels and created an environment 
favorable for fire ignitions, especially in the foothills and higher 
elevations. Dozens of small wildfires have occurred or are occurring 
over the higher terrain so far this Summer. Several of the wildfires 
have been sparked by lightning in recent weeks. 

As of July 29th, a seasonal precipitation deficit of up to 26 inches 
existed over the southern Sierra. Elsewhere over the central California
interior, there has been a precipitation shortage this year of roughly
3 to 9 inches. Precipitation totals since January in the Tulare Lake 
Basin of the Sierra are approximately one inch below the driest year
on record which was 1977.  


As of July 29th, all climate stations at select airports in the San 
Joaquin Valley recorded well below normal rainfall for the water 
year which began October 1st, 2020. The table below shows total 
rainfall, in inches, with respect to normal since October 1st and 
the percentage of normal rainfall to date.   

Merced             7.00                 11.75             60%
Fresno             6.59                 10.94             60%
Hanford            4.29                  8.09             53%
Bakersfield        2.77                  6.31             44%

Elsewhere across the central California interior, precipitation 
has been well below normal so far this water year. Much of the 
Kern County desert has received less than 25 percent of its normal 
precipitation since October 1st.  Most of Tulare County, southeast
Fresno County, the Kern County mountains and the Sierra foothills
in Mariposa County and Madera County have had less than 50 percent
of their normal water year precipitation to date.   


The Climate Prediction Center's 60 to 90 day outlook favors below
normal precipitation across central California. Keeping in mind that 
the weather is typically dry throughout central California through 
September, exceptional drought conditions will most likely persist 
into the Fall.   

The Climate Prediction Center forecasts above normal temperatures 
throughout central California through October. The combination of 
well above normal temperatures and dry fuels will likely keep the
fire danger high into Autumn, especially over the higher terrain
of central California. As hurricane season ramps up in the tropical 
waters of the Pacific during the next several weeks, northward influxes 
of tropical moisture into central California, while somewhat helpful, 
could be more of a curse than a blessing and lead to the development
of thunderstorms that bring dry lightning and an increased threat of 
wildfire ignitions. 

Meanwhile, increased irrigation water demands will persist within 
the agriculture industry. Stricter water conservation measures may
also be imposed for residential and commercial businesses as 
drought conditions worsen statewide.  

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center indicated that neutral ENSO 
conditions exist over the equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean
and will likely continue through October with the possibility of
a La Nina emerging sometime this Fall.(ENSO stands for the El Nino-
Southern Oscillation). Neutral ENSO conditions are characterized by 
neither above or below normal sea surface temperatures in the 
equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean. A La Nina is characterized 
by below normal sea surface temperatures over the equatorial regions 
of the Pacific Ocean.    

Drought Information Statements will be issued monthly or more 
frequently, if necessary, from the National Weather Service in 
Hanford, CA while any portion of the central California interior 
is in Extreme Drought Classification (D3 status and higher) or 
whenever any significant changes to drought status and/or impacts 
occur within NWS Hanford's County warning area. 


Related websites/sources of information... 
California Data Exchange Center: 
California-Nevada River Forecast Center:
Drought Monitor: 
California Drought Page: 
NOAA/NIDIS Nationwide Drought Impacts:
Climate Prediction Center: 
National Weather Service San Joaquin Valley: 
Western Region Climate Center: 
United States Department of Agriculture: 
Valley Ag Voice- Kern County Farm Bureau

Related news articles:


Climate Prediction Center Drought Monitor
Western Region Climate Center 
California-Nevada River Forecast Center 
National Weather Service San Joaquin Valley - Hanford 
California Department of Water Resources 
National Park Service- Sequoia/Kings Canyon N.P.
The Fresno Bee ( 
The Sacramento Bee ( 
Los Angeles Times (
The Washington Post (
University of CA, San Diego Guardian (
KFSN-TV 30, Fresno, CA
KMPH-TV 26, Fresno, CA
SFGate News (

*Press release of Emergency Proclamation can be found at

Questions and comments: Please refer all questions to


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Western Regional Climate Center,