La Niña this winter means dry weather

Last winter was a soaker. 

Now water managers worry about drier than usual weather across much of California through March. 

What gives? 

Last winter delivered a strong El Niño, the official designation for the climatic phenomenon typically associated with balmy temperatures and plenty of rain for many parts of the Golden State. This winter is on track to bring a strong La Niña – effectively the opposite phenomenon that can mean cooler, dry conditions, especially in Southern California.

It is the first time in more than three decades that a strong El Niño and strong La Niña occurred in back-to-back winters, according to climate data. The last time the robust “boy” and “girl” arrived in consecutive winters came in the mid-1970s, with an El Niño in 1972-73 and La Niña in 1973-74. The previous switch happened in the mid-1950s.

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UCI Study: Too Much Fresh Water Hitting Oceans

Satellite tracking of worldwide storms for more than a decade show melting polar ice sheets and increased rainfall are sending more fresh water into the oceans at the same time areas that need rain are getting less, according to a first-of-its-kind study by scientists at UC Irvine.

“In general, more water is good,” said Jay Famiglietti, UCI Earth system science professor and principal investigator on the study. “But here’s the problem: Not everybody is getting more rainfall, and those who are may not need it.”

“What we’re seeing,” he added, “is exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted — that precipitation is increasing in the tropics and the Arctic Circle, with heavier, more punishing storms. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people live in semiarid regions, and those are drying up.”

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Ban on sewage dumping along California coast to get federal teeth

Cruise ships and large commercial ships will be banned from dumping any kind of sewage — even highly filtered wastewater — along California’s coast out to three miles from shore, under new rules from the Obama administration.

The rules, which are scheduled to be announced Wednesday at a news conference in San Francisco, give California among the strictest laws in the nation limiting pollution from large ships.

“This is going to cover the entire California coastline,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “Oceangoing vessels should not consider our coastline a place for dumping sewage.”

In 2005, Simitian wrote a bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed banning sewage discharges in state waters from cruise ships and commercial ships larger than 300 gross tons.

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