Earth Log

August 18, 2014

Earth Log: Anxiety, drought and barn owls

Earth Log

Mark Grossi's dispatches from the Valley battle with air quality and water use

A farmer just called to say he thinks big rainfall will begin before Thanksgiving this year in California. He based his prediction on movements of barn owls. Don't ask. 

As I wrote Sunday, it's too early for anything more than worrying about the rain season ahead, but people have their own ideas. 

In that vein, I consulted The Old Farmer's Almanac. The almanac, which has been published since the 1790s, says this about California:

"Winter will be warmer than normal, with the coldest periods in late December and early to mid- and late February. Rainfall will be above normal in the north and below in the south. Mountain snows will be below normal, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-January and mid- to late February."

I decided I needed something a little more official. So I looked at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and the latest November, December and January forecast. 

It called for elevated chances of above-average precipitation toward Southern California and 50-50 chance of average to the north. 

I'm sure readers can offer other ideas.

I remember going through some form of this hand-wringing in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the six-year drought. I’m not opposed to any of it if a rainy season starts promptly in early fall. I might even find myself scanning the sky for barn owls.

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About Mark Grossi


Mark Grossi has the pulse of the San Joaquin Valley ecosystem, writing since 1993 about subjects such as the region's notorious air quality, the restoration of the San Joaquin River and unhealthy drinking water in rural towns. Twitter: @markgrossi Email Mark at or call him at 559-441-6316.

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