Weather Makes A Liar Out Of Me (Or, You're Being Asked To Pray For Rain)

Posted by Tom Chandler 1/9/2014

No sooner had I posted an article about California's drought woes than news appeared of a "big" storm headed the Underground's way.

The universe, it seems, is more interested in making a liar out of me than it is in preserving California's drought.

So be it. I've been accused of bringing blanket hatches to a halt just by showing up to fish them, so bringing an end to California's drought through the simple act of writing about it seems almost logical.

Unfortunately, the storm headed our way will be wet but short (this in consultation with my alpine-guide friends at Mt. Shasta Guides, who enjoy a far more meaningful relationship to weather than fly fishermen ever will).

In other words, this is a first step -- but not the drought-busting storm we need. (Actually, we need a series of big, wet, drought-busting storms).

To make matters worse, a high pressure system -- the kind of "blocking high" that pushes the Pacific storms around California -- looks to be hard on the storm's heels.

Better enjoy the bad weather while I can.

Right now, the Lower Sacramento River's flows are in the 3,000 cfs range, which -- according to Redding newspaper editor Bruce Ross -- are the lowest since 1990. You can basically see the river's ribs poking out.

It's bad enough that the California Conference of Catholic Bishops have asked people of all faiths to pray for rain. On a less divine front, California Fish and Wildlife officials are being pressured to close the American River's steelhead fishery; the very low flows are leaving the steelhead -- and the fall-run Chinook Salmon redds -- extremely vulnerable to fishermen.

Meanwhile, the Central Valley's agriculture industry is bracing for another year of low water deliveries. Some will pump groundwater to try and make up the difference, but studies suggest massive overpumping of aquifers is causing parts of the Central Valley to subside as much as a foot per year.

Subsidence doesn't just permanently damage the aquifers themselves, but it also threatens most of the Central Valley's gravity-fed water conveyance features (like canals).

Suddenly, the question "How low can you go" acquires new meaning for irrigators.

See you breaking out the Rosary and praying for rain, Tom Chandler.


Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

Hope what we're getting now is sliding south (or stays to the south) FINALLY getting some decent snow totals ...Seattle area was 3.5 inches below normal rainfall for December...Will do rain dance for you after the football game....
It's starting to look smaller. No gully washers this time.
Well, if you have any water left send it this way. One of the best brown trout fisheries in my area, which happens to be a tailwater, has had its flows dropped to the lowest I've seen it in a long time. Which means the redds the fall spawners made are at risk. Since there's no regulation on that water the conservation challenged will target the late spawners. Bummer.
You know things are dire when the Catholic Church -- which has a few issues of its own to deal with -- starts praying for you.
I don't have a rosary, but I will pray, if a non-rosary guided prayer has any merit, it may help. And hopefully it won't make matters worse.

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