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Lake Mead at scary low levels. Super El Nino is coming

Hoover Dam, May 1, 2015, elevation 1078.93

Hoover Dam, May 1, 2015, elevation 1078.93. Photo: John Fleck

Water journalist John Fleck says despite the extremely low levels in Lake Mead, the system is still functioning and there are no emergencies yet.

The answers – and I believe them – are that things are getting tighter, but that there’s enough flexibility in the water management system currently to keep the cities and farm communities that depend on the river intact. These people [water managers] have some really hard work ahead of them to keep it that way, but you can see a path that keeps it possible.

But it’s hard to disentangle that from the visceral shock of seeing Lake Mead lower every time I return.

Lake Mead and the Colorado River delivers crucial amount of water to several states, including California. Happily, a Super El Nino is forming and that almost certainly means big rain this coming rainy season.

The forecast of a strong El Nino brings good news to California. NOAA’s CFSv2 model is forecasting above well above normal precipitation for October through December, 2015. Because models are forecasting El Nino conditions to continue through January 2016 there is a good chance that heavy winter rains will break the California drought. The downside will be massive landslides and flooding in areas that have been affected by recent wild fires.

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