“Pineapple Express” Brings Some Relief to California Vintners
The “Pineapple Express,” a river of air that flows from near the Hawaiian Islands bringing torrential rains to the West Coast, has given California vintners a glimmer of hope that the state’s severe three-year drought may loosening its grip.
An epic late November-early December storm dumped almost 10 inches of rain on some California locations, causing flooded streets, mudslides, power outages and no shortage of rain-caused accidents on slick roads and freeways. It also bumped up the water levels in the state’s reservoirs, though not by a whole lot, and helped reduce salt levels in the soil that had been built up by years of drought. Even better, many meteorologists believe that the parade of storms signaled a change in the weather pattern that will bring more rain to California in the winter months.
In fact, vintners are luckier than other growers, who have seen the state’s ongoing drought devastate their crops. According to a recent industry survey, only 36 percent of California wine growers report a measurable effect from this year’s drought, though its impacts were felt more severely in the Central Valley, Central Coast and Sierra Foothills.
Even if this winter continues to be wet, California has a long way to go to climb out of the drought. Using satellite data, a NASA study suggests the state needs 11 trillion gallons of rainwater to recover or approximately 18 to 20 inches of rain over the next six months. Average annual California rainfall is 23 inches, so don’t break out the bubbly just yet.