The current Southwest drought has brought many problems to residents and businesses in California including water conservation restrictions and fines, decreased agricultural crop production and fewer recreational opportunities.
A new problem has surfaced as a result of the historic drought: The earth's crust is slowly rising because groundwater, which kept it weighed down, has disappeared.
The estimated loss of 63 trillion gallons of water raised California mountains by more than a half inch (15 millimeters) and on average, 0.15 inches (4 mm) across the western United States, researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego said.
The water loss is equivalent to the yearly water loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the researchers said.
The Scripps study, done in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey, was reported in the Aug. 21 online edition of the journal Science.
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Scripps researchers analyzed GPS data used for earthquake monitoring in the region from 2003 to 2014. All the stations moved upwards in the most recent years, which coincide with the drought, according to a Scripps news release.
"These results quantify the amount of water mass lost in the past few years," researcher Dan Cayan said in a news release. "It also represents a powerful new way to track water resources over a very large landscape. We can hone in on the Sierra Nevada mountains and critical California snowpack. These results demonstrate that this technique can be used to study changes in fresh water in other regions around the world, if they have a network of GPS sensors."
It will take 6 to 9 inches of rain over a four-week period for the California water conditions to stabilize, according to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston, who quoted data from the Palmer Drought Severity Index.
Some areas need up to 12 inches of rain to reverse the drought.
The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows that up to a foot of rain over four weeks is needed to be a game-changer for the extended California Drought. (Photo/NOAA)
An expected weak El Niño, also known as an El Niño Modoki, will not help California's drought, Boston said.
Higher sea surface temperatures will be farther west in the central tropical Pacific, keeping some of the best precipitation prospects away from California, he said.
"California will have a dry winter," he said. "They're in rough shape. You need a moderate to strong El Niño to bring sizable storms to California; otherwise, the storms will pass by California and go into Oregon and Washington."
Scripps researcher Duncan Agnew also noted that the rising crust has virtually no effect on the San Andreas Fault and doesn't increase the risk of earthquakes.
A major Thanksgiving Day storm threatens to ruin holiday events across the Central states with flooding rain, snow, a glaze of ice and fog.
Sandra remains on track to target northern Mexico Friday and Saturday, but it should be much weaker at landfall than its current major hurricane status.
Unsettled weather will stretch across the United Kingdom on 27th November as millions set out in search of the best Black Friday deals on offer.
Winterlike conditions will continue disrupt travel across the Intermountain West leading up to Thanksgiving.
Compared to Thanksgiving Day in 2014, this Thanksgiving will be substantially warmer in the Northeast.
Wet weather will stretch from Texas to Michigan and could impact shoppers and slow travel during Black Friday.
A dozen tornadoes across these states.
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5.56 inches of rain fell, setting a new all-time record. the previous rainfall record was 4.53 inches from January 9, 1966.
Great Appalachian Storm (24th-26th) developed greatest wind force, deepest snow, most severe early-season cold in history of the Northeast: 18.8 inches of snow at Akron, OH; Youngstown, OH, had a maximum 24-hour snowfall of 20.7 inches and a maximum single storm total of 28.7 inches; Steubenville, OH, had a maximum single storm total of 36.3 inches; Pittsburgh, PA, had a maximum 24-hour snowfall of 20.1 inches and a maximum single storm total of 27.7 inches; and Charleston, WV had a maximum 24-hour snowfall of 15.1 inches and a maximum single storm total of 25.6 inches. At coastal stations such as Newark and Boston single-minute wind speeds in excess of 80 mph were registered. There was a 108 mph gust at Newark. Peak gusts of 110 were noticed at Concord, NH; 108 mph at Newark, NJ; and 100 mph at Hartford, CT. Atop Mt. Washington, a wind gust of 160 mph hit from the southeast early on the 26th. Central Park, in the heart of sheltered Manhattan Island, set an 80-year record of 70 mph.