California Permanent Drought

“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”

— John Steinbeck, “East of Eden”

Three days ago, the New York Times announced the permanent drought in California.  Now they are flooded.

What to Know About the Drought in California and Western Half of U.S. – The New York Times

After Fires and Droughts, California Prepares for Heavy Rain – The New York Times

Five years ago, the New York Times announced the permanent drought, which was followed by their wettest winter on record.

California Braces for Unending Drought – The New York Times

California Drought Is the Worst in at Least 1,200 Years, Scientists Say | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel |

NWS: Northern California now on pace for ‘wettest water year on record’ – SFGate

In 1977, the New York Times announced the California permanent drought, which was followed by flooding.

Brown Warns of Drought Disaster; Says ‘Hard Choices’ Face California – The New York Times

TimesMachine: April 9, 1977

09 Jun 1977, Page 1 – The Daily Inter Lake at

TimesMachine: August 16, 1977 –

TimesMachine: March 5, 1978 –

In 1963, drought was followed by flooding

TimesMachine: January 21, 1963

TimesMachine: February 2, 1963 –

(PDF) Fifty-two years of “pineapple-express” storms across the West Coast of North America

There has been no trend in California precipitation over the last 125 years.

Climate at a Glance | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

25 Jan 1862, Page 3 – Daily Ohio Statesman

Central Valley, California, 1861-62 – Top 10 Historic U.S. Floods – TIME

The West Without Water – Google Books


11 Oct 1859, 3 – Daily National Democrat at

It was 110F in October 1859 – the same year when Santa Barbara reach 133F on June 17 and the largest recorded solar storm occurred in early August.

13 Jun 1877, Page 2 – San Francisco Chronicle at

13 Aug 1859, 2 – Pointe Coupee Democrat at

29 Jun 1859, 4 – The Sacramento Bee at

31 Aug 1859, Page 2 – Detroit Free Press at

14 Sep 1859, Page 1 – The Louisville Daily Courier at

31 Aug 1859, 1 – The Cadiz Sentinel at

06 Sep 1859, Page 2 – Brooklyn Evening Star at

There was a tremendous flood on the Mississippi the week before the record heat in Santa Barbara

09 Jun 1859, 2 – Chicago Tribune at

14 May 1859, 1 – The Courier-Journal at

30 Apr 1859, Page 1 – The Times-Picayune at

29 Oct 1859, 3 – Sheffield and Rotherham Independent at

01 Nov 1859, 4 – The Leeds Mercury at

29 Oct 1859, 4 – The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Western Countries and South Wales Advertiser at

“BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.”

Severe Ancient Droughts: A Warning to California – The New York Times

Thirty years ago, the New York Times knew that the 20th century was unusually wet in California, and that the Medieval Warm Period was global.

“Lisa J. Graumlich, who examines the ring patterns of foxtail pine trees and western junipers in the Sierra Nevada, has compiled a detailed record of the year-to-year variation in temperature and precipitation over the last thousand years.

She has seen in the North American trees the feathery but unmistakable signatures of the Medieval Warm Period, a era from 1100 to 1375 A.D. when, according to European writers of the time and other sources, the climate was so balmy that wine grapes flourished in Britain and the Vikings farmed the now-frozen expanse of Greenland; and the Little Ice Age, a stretch of abnormally frigid weather lasting roughly from 1450 to 1850. A Crucial Question

“We can now see that these were global climate phenomena, not regional temperature variations,” she said. “The question is, how did we get those warmer temperatures during pre-industrial times, and what can we learn from those conditions about what is going on today?”

“Western landscapes in presettlement era were very smoky places.”

Warming? Tree Rings Say Not Yet – The New York Times

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11 Responses to California Permanent Drought

  1. Conrad Ziefle says:

    Our drought in the 1980s lasted about 7 years and was longer than the present drought, which may be ending as I write this. Last week the Sierras got 3 feet of snow, in one of the earliest significant storms which I can remember, and right now it is raining here, and more snow is coming down in the mountains. Normally, rain season is about a month or more later. While it is possible, that we will still h ave a dry year, this looks very promising, and Gag’em Newsom looks very dumb.
    Well he always does.

  2. John B says:

    And Steinbeck was no conservative, either!
    (then again, the propaganda of manmade global warming wasn’t a thing either!)

  3. czechlist says:

    Like politics, all climate/weather is local. I imagine there are few places where you won’t hear “if you don’t like the weather wait a minute”.
    Steinbeck was spot on and Limbaugh used to say something like – too many people believe history began with their birth.

  4. Conrad Ziefle says:

    “We can now see that these were global climate phenomena, not regional temperature variations,” she said. “The question is, how did we get those warmer temperatures during pre-industrial times, and what can we learn from those conditions about what is going on today?”
    You could begin with stop believing that 4/10000 of the atmosphere is magic dust.

  5. Daniel Smeal says:

    Does this H. Fountain dude ever get out of his office? Southern NM had a very wet summer. Range and forests are looking great. He is blinded to ‘weather’ by the ‘climate’ rhetoric.

  6. Psalmon says:

    2016-2017 just 5 years ago was the wettest year on record in the Northern CA 8 Station Index (mountain stations in that cover the largest CA reservoirs)…

    You can see here that the current drought is really the last two seasons…2018-19 was well above normal.

    • nobler says:

      It would be interesting to see the data from the “Northern Sierra 8-station index” plotted by year. I would expect to see something cyclic

  7. nobler says:

    There will be a permanent drought until there isn’t. Then there will be the worst ever drought, which will also be labeled “permanent”. It’s Groundhog Day all over again.

    Again, I’m going to put in a plug for Roy Spencer’s excellent book, “Climate Confusion”
    I may be giving out several copies for Xmas presents.

  8. GWS says:

    “Extreme weather brought on by human-induced climate change,” says Maria, the progressively indoctrinated NYT reporter who believes she knows more than any scientist who has studied it, and who is proof that Steinbeck was right.

    • Conrad Ziefle says:

      You terrible human, actually enjoying the benefits of scientific advances! Now you must pay the voodoo priest for your sins- as well as run around naked, starving, freezing, and pulling tapeworms out of your bung.

  9. Tom Vyse says:

    Tony, I really like what you publish, but you do go overboard once in a while. Even though you said, “Three days ago, the New York Times announced the permanent drought in California.”, there was no use of the word “permanent” in the article you quoted. The worst they said was at the end, “There appears to be little relief in sight.” I know you love accuracy in others, but please keep up that virtue in yourself, too.

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