NASA scientists say satellite remote sensing can help determine when water will fall from the sky several weeks in advance. It can pinpoint how much water is available in snowpack and how much water is available in the ground. It’s crucial information during California’s drought.
Duane Waliser is a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He’s using satellite remote sensing to predict a tropical weather pattern that produces heavy precipitation. It’s known as an “atmospheric river.”
“One of these rivers transports as much water at any given time as about five to ten Mississippi Rivers, so it’s very significant, and about 20-to-30 percent of that often ends up in the form of precipitation.”
Scientists can now forecast the weather pattern as much as four weeks in advance. The Department of Water Resources says the information will help the state better prepare and respond during droughts.
The drought intensified over the last week in the Western U.S. as the region swelters under a heatwave and firefighters battle major wildfires.
Dangerous fire weather conditions has prompted one federal agency to impose fire restrictions on public lands in northern California.
Mandatory statewide water conservation rules have ended in California. But Sacramento-area users conserved 22 percent in June, compared to June 2013.
California and federal agencies say a new strategy is needed to save the endangered Delta smelt.
California is in the fifth consecutive year of drought, but state water managers ended mandatory conservation rules. Local water suppliers now determine conservation rates, and some have low or no targets. A water expert says that's 'shortsighted.'