Cheer up. We may die

“The globe experienced its eighth warmest October since record keeping began in 1880,” reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today. “Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest extent on record for October at 23.5 percent below average. Additionally, La Niña conditions strengthened during October 2011. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter.” To keep reading, click here.

For those of you who missed Bettina Boxall’s characteristically vivid reporting for the Los Angeles Times on the seldom noted dark twin of Southern California water consumption — the vast energy suck required to pump water here from the Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — click here.

‘Dry’ or ‘wild’ winter for Southern California

“For the second winter in a row, La Niña will influence weather patterns across the country,” reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,  “but as usual, it’s not the only climate factor at play. The ‘wild card’ is the lesser-known and less predictable Arctic Oscillation …”

Click here to keep reading NOAA’s winter outlook published today.

By way of spoiler, the predictions are dry for the already fried Southwest, wet for the already soaked Northwest and Northeast, and vague for Southern California, leaning towards dry. If it’s dry the way last year was dry in Los Angeles, we could get near record rainfall.

‘Irene has a long reach’

August 26, 2011 image of 'Irene.' Click on the image to be taken to the National Weather Service.

Six years to the week of Hurricane Katrina, “Irene has a long reach,” reports NASA’s Earth Observatory. “The storm is large, spanning nearly 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from east to west in this image (below). It could intensify slightly in the next day or two. The storm’s currently forecasted track takes it over the Outer Banks and along the U.S. East Coast before going ashore over New England.” Click here to be taken to NASA, here for NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. UPDATE: Click here for the Washington Post’s live hurricane tracker.

Japan quake, fifth strongest in world since 1900, leads to a Pacific-wide tsunami

Click here for estimated arrival times on the North American coast of a Pacific-wide tsunami generated by an 8.9* magnitude earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. Click here for warnings and advisories for the US Pacific Coast. The highest surges are predicted for north of Point Concepcion. However, in Southern California, stay away from the ocean. Most importantly, click here for the Red Cross as it readies to send aid to Japan, and here, if you can bear it, to be taken to a photo essay in the Los Angeles Times revealing the scale of the Japanese catastrophe the morning after what now ranks as the fifth strongest* quake recorded since 1900.

*Updated post. 3/14/2011: The US Geological Survey joined its Japanese opposite number in recalibrating the quake as having been magnitude 9.0. Click here for the announcement. The recalibration makes it a tie for the

State of salmon

The best quip of the President’s State of the Union address: “… the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Nice joke, good speech, but the laugh is a short-lived one for Californians, raising as the gag does the suggestion that in streamlining the way we manage salmon it would somehow be possible to tilt power from the agency that protects the fish when they migrate (Commerce) toward the agency that drains rivers of the fresh water that they need to breed (Interior).

Or vice versa.

This taxpayer for one is happy that Commerce is there to demand that the Endangered Species Act be invoked when salmon are imperiled by freshwater diversions to farms and cities. At the same time, this Californian is

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