PPIC Interview with Martin Ralph, Director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. California has the most variable climate in the country. Drought and flood years can come back-to-back. And it’s getting more extreme: wet periods are expected to get wetter and dry ones drier. We have to prepare for these changes and figure out how to use the state’s amazing water system to our advantage. This system was developed for an already variable climate, but it has its limits. About half of California’s precipitation and nearly all flood damage come from large storms called atmospheric rivers. We found that most of the state’s precipitation variability comes from just a few of the wettest days each year from these big storms. These are the days that make or break a water year in California. Improving how we handle atmospheric rivers is a key challenge. (more)

Related article: https://www.ppic.org/blog/yesterdays-dams-face-tomorrows-floods/