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The Real Reason for Drought-Like Conditions

By Cassandra Arsenault, Reporter, CassandraArsenault@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Jan 14 2014 08:30:21 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 11:38:27 AM CST

There are all kinds of theories people are throwing around about what's causing the record dry year, but the National Weather Service said there's no real answer yet. At the National Weather Center in Monterey, a meteorologist said why there's no clear cut answer people can look to at this moment.

MONTEREY, Calif.--There are all kinds of theories people are throwing around about what's causing the record dry year, but the National Weather Service said there's no real answer yet. At the National Weather Center in Monterey, a meteorologist said why there's no clear cut answer people can look to at this moment.

"We are talking historic here. We are really in some uncharted area in terms of it being this dry," said Logan Johnson, warning coordination meteorologist, when referring to the driest year on record in every location on the Monterey Bay. "What really stands out here is for example Salinas, where we had about three inches of rain this year; normally we would see about 13 inches of rain at this time of year."

Like most things that are outside of normal, people want to know why it's happening. People are developing theories, trying to connect the dots to make sense of it all.

"There are a lot of theories out there right now. It's a very complicated question, but what we do know is that what we have seen for the past year is a very persistent ridge of high pressure over the west coast," said Johnson.

The ridge of high pressure isn't letting the rain in, and one theory the Pacific Decadal Oscillation,means there would be periods of warm water in the northern Pacific Ocean. This means the warm water up there is helping to form high pressure across the area, making it harder for the possibility of rain.

Johnson said the theory is a good one, but too hard to prove. Another theory is less cover-over ice in the Arctic that's causing the warming, but Johnson said that's a stretch too.

"We are seeing high pressure in a very specific area, so if it [cover-over ice] was the cause, why isn't it happening in the rest of the United States?" said Johnson.

Johnson admitted the answer to the ever-desperate question of why the drought-like conditions haven't let up, has no answer at all.

"The real question is why is that ridge of high pressure persistent, and the real answer is we don't know," said Johnson.

The National Weather Service said there is no chance of rain at all in the next two weeks, which means we're closer to the end of winter with little rain for the area.