Local researcher explains lack of rain after Gov. Brown issues drought emergency

SAN DIEGO - As the sun keeps beating down on San Diego, we keep falling behind in our rainfall and a drought emergency was issued by Governor Jerry Brown.

The reason?

“It's definitely one of those natural variations in the climate system,” Dan Cayan, a climate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said.

Right now San Diego is leaning towards La Nina which normally means less rain for San Diego.

“Before this water year, we’ve had two successive dry years,” Cayan said.

Maps from the U.S. drought monitor show our state one year ago with Southern California as dry while Northern California was doing well in terms of rainfall.

The same map showing this year’s totals indicates an extreme drought throughout the entire state.

The big questions is, when will it break down?

“That’s the $64,000 question and in this case there is not really an easy answer to that,” Cayan said.

“We are stuck in this pattern where the jet stream is moving well up into Canada and dipping south into the southern states, causing the polar vortex and a lot of cold air into the eastern half of the states,” 10News Meteorologist Craig Herrera said. “For us, it's an area of high pressure that's consistently in place and those westerly winds that typically bring those storms in are just not making it because of an area of high pressure.”

“In order for there to be a lot of relief we would have to have a very extended wet period, Cayan said.

That would come from an event like the Pineapple Express – when an atmospheric river of rain starting near the Hawaiian Islands points at San Diego.

The last time a Pineapple Express hit San Diego was January 2005.

Cayan says within the next decade we will see a wet year that will offset what is happening now.

"But I can't say exactly when that's going to reverse," Cayan said.

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