The inertia of that Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

Thanks to some sips tips from Stackoverflow and OSXDaily, my sister's pointer to gifmaker.me, and the NOAA/ESRL Daily Mean Composites visualizer, I managed to create an animation of the quasi-stationary Ridiculously Resilient Ridge (RRR) between December 23, 2013 and January 21, 2014.

The RRR is a remarkably scary phenomenon because it's been sitting there, deflecting rain from California, for THIRTEEN consecutive months. In fact, the high-pressure ridge is often so large, it's deflecting moisture from most of the west coast of Canada and the Unites States!

DecJanDailies.gif

Remember Newton's First Law of Physics? An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an external force.

The earth's atmosphere behaves like a shallow pan of fluid on top of our rock ball. The atmosphere responds with waves when pinged (water analogy) or plucked (string analogy). You can see the opposite phases of the waves in blue (low pressure) and red (high pressure) below. Normally, the waves move around a bit, spreading the sunshine and rain over time and space.

However, the RRR has been quasi-stationary with practically zero momentum for more than a year. It would take a lot of energy to budge something so big and so stationary. The strength and persistence of the RRR makes that an unlikely event.

This is a severe event. In a widespread drought like this, it's simply not an option to pull water from another water shed (e.g. the Colorado River Basin). No one in the west has any water to spare. This is not media hype. This could be a catastrophic disaster.

It's time to prepare for the worst drought and wildfire season in California in my lifetime.

Aside: I showed it in Lambert Conformal (conic projection) instead of Polar Stereographic this time. Which do you prefer? This is cross-posted on my personal blog, where we share respectful comments, questions and answers.


More by Grace Peng:
The inertia of that Ridiculously Resilient Ridge
That Ridiculously Resilient Ridge keeping California dry
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