LONG BEACH, Calif.—Meteorologists say they expect California’s record drought to continue or worsen in coming months.
The severity of the drought is due to two factors, climate experts said Wednesday at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.
One is temperature. Two thousand fourteen may be the hottest year yet for California since record keeping began over a century ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We are in a period where we are experiencing an extreme long-term trend of high, high average annual temperatures,” said UCLA geography professor Glen MacDonald. “That’s where our vulnerability is coming from. The high temperatures we are experiencing [and] high evaporation rates. They exacerbate the drought.”
The second is rainfall. Rainfall has been extremely low for the last few years.
“We look back at the ’20s and the ’50s, there have been dry periods before,” said NOAA meteorologist Mark Jackson. “But we’ve never seen a period before where it’s been this dry and this warm at the same time.”
Experts at Wednesday’s event predicted an increased risk for severe weather across the globe. In general, droughts in California are expected to increase from 3-5 years to 9-14 years.
Jackson also said it may take a few years to end California’s current drought.
“The longer this drought goes on, the harder it’s going to be to break it,” he said. “It’ll probably take more than one season of above-normal precipitation.”
The U.S. seasonal drought outlook by the National Weather Service’s climate prediction center said last week that dry weather is expected for northern and central California for October through December.
Southern California may see some wet weather this fall, but most likely not enough to end the drought. This is due to the possibility of a weak El Nino, a warm water current in the Pacific Ocean that can affect rainfall around the world.