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Heavy rainfall brings slight relief to California’s drought situation

 January 13, 2023 at 3:03 PM PST

S1: The impact of recent rainfall on our drought.

S2: Three weeks or so just is not able to counteract the dryness that's taken place over three or four years.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman , This is KPBS midday edition. A look at U.S. support of the war in Ukraine.

S3: We are helping Ukraine defend itself against the naked aggression from Russia.

S1: We talk about things you can do this weekend on the art scene in your weekend preview. That's ahead on Midday Edition. While the recent rain wreaked havoc across the state , there is one small silver lining. California's drought conditions are improving. Joining me now is Daniel Kane , a researcher of climate , atmospheric science and physical oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Daniel , welcome. Thanks.

S2: Thanks. Good to be here.

S1: You know , thanks to this recent weather , there's been a lot of discussion over whether or not this state is still experiencing a drought.

S2: The drought that we've been afflicted with has built up over some years of deficits. And , well , the heavy precipitation in the state has certainly made a dent and in some areas probably strongly reversed the dry situation. There's a set of the longer term reservoir storage facilities in the state , such as Shasta Trinity in the far northern part of the state that still have not refilled to what we would call normal for this time of the year. And the groundwater situation , for example , in the state has has really taken a hit during these dry years , as many of the water interests have had to resort to groundwater withdrawal and aquifers have been somewhat depleted at least. So this siege of weather that we've seen is certainly beneficial in a water supply sense. But three weeks or so just is not able to counteract the dryness that's taken place over three or four years.

S1: I mean , you know , as of today , most of the state is no longer experiencing extreme drought.

S2: But it is still the case that we're in certain areas not going to make up for the deficit that's been built again over this longer period after the rainy season in California has run its course. So we're we're about halfway into the traditional wet season here in the state. I guess I would remind that we're still in the middle of a La Nina condition in the tropical Pacific , which generally is not favorable for heavy precipitation in the southern part of the state. So that may work against us as far as the amount of rainfall that we we receive from the end of January forward. Well , we'll see how that works out.


S2: And , you know , the flooded communities that we're already seeing and so forth. From a water supply perspective , the reservoirs in the state have been pretty low and generally heavy rains are beneficial. There's there are some reservoirs , of course , where if you exceed a certain level , you have to let water out of the reservoir for fear of the next the next storm and , you know , a bad flood. There's always that challenge , that water resource people have to worry about. But in California , we are kind of a boom and bust state as far as our water , and we have to take advantage of these heavy precipitation episodes to generate our water supply.

S1: Can you put the current dry period into context ? I mean , what would it actually take to bring the state out of drought ? Just full stop.

S2: Two or three years of normal to above normal precipitation is is probably needed to restore a lot of what we've lost. The other thing I think that that needs to be mentioned is that a very warm climate during the last several years has kind of added to the impacts of the lack of precipitation. So not only have we not received as much precipitation as normal. On top of that , the atmosphere has gotten what you might say is more thirsty for water from the land surface and stockpiles of water. So we're losing more to evaporation and to the landscape and receiving less usable water in the state. That's probably not going to reverse because we think that that's a symptom of of ongoing climate change. And very likely that's that's actually going to intensify. So we're kind of in the West here. We're sort of fighting this battle with a warming climate that sort of adds to the penalty of on again , off again dryness.


S2: But the state is very cognizant of the situation and they're quite climate wise , I would say. I think most water districts are are probably also so and indeed , we still have to be frugal. But in any case , I think California society has has been battered by dryness now since the early 2000. And I think we're we're getting more experienced and better able to conserve.

S1: I've been speaking with Daniel Kay and a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Daniel , thank you for joining us. Okay.

S2: Okay. Thank you.

S1: The United States has been deeply involved in the war in Ukraine , even though there's been no significant deployment of U.S. troops to Eastern Europe. Almost daily weapons , equipment and other supplies depart from the U.S. to support the Ukrainian military and civilian authorities. Eric Schmidt reports for the American Homefront Project. The war in Ukraine is quite different from most of the other conflicts the United States has been involved in in the recent past. Conner Savoy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says that's because there hasn't been any overt U.S. military action within the country.

S2: The biggest difference is that Ukraine has demonstrated its willingness and capability to defend itself if given the weapons and support and equipment it needs.

S1: It's a point Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized in his address to Congress late last year.

S2: Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to.

S1: Fight on our land instead. Of.

S2: Of. Us.

S1: Us. I assure you that.

S2: Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves.

S1: The U.S. pledged to send Patriot missile systems to help with Ukraine's air defense. Just before Zelensky's remarks and a few days after Congress passed its massive spending bill , which includes another $45 billion in military , economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. These deliveries are part of how the U.S. military remains closely tied to the conflict. In a September video from Delaware's Dover Air Base. A half dozen airmen push a large stack of weapons onto a C-17 cargo plane. But. They secure the goods with metal chains before loading the next pallet onto the aircraft bound for Ukraine. These kinds of shipments happen nearly every day.

S3: We are helping Ukraine defend itself against the naked aggression from Russia.

S1: General Jackie Van OST leads the U.S. Transportation Command , which handles the military's logistical movements , including deliveries to Eastern Europe.

S3: Let's say the air defense systems , the artillery systems know that it came from the United States , mainly from the United States , and in about 25 other countries have helped.

S1: She says her command identifies where these items are and determines how they'll get to Ukraine. Venable says she's coordinated cargo shipments from around the world , though a lot of it is sent from air and seaports on the East Coast. Savoy says the U.S. is in a unique position to provide this support because of the military's prowess with logistics while.

S2: Other countries can replicate it. It's always at a much smaller scale. Countries have maybe three or four large transport aircraft versus the couple hundred large transport aircraft that the United States has.

S1: Venables says her command delivers munitions and other essential military equipment around the clock. She says they also have consistent contact with Ukrainian leaders to ensure they're sending the most critical humanitarian aid too.

S3: Like right now because of the winter. They pushed up the tents , the heaters , the , you know , the propane and and they've moved down some other things. Doesn't mean they don't need it. They need it all because there they continue to get bombed.

S1: Venables says other non-military necessities include generators and transformers for the country's battered power grid. Even with the U.S. military's ability to deliver goods at any time , Savoy says it will still be difficult to send some of these items.

S2: We can't just go to like a warehouse run by Siemens or GE or some other large Western industrial conglomerate and just start pulling transformers and other grid components off the shelf.

S1: Savoy says they can take several months to produce. He says Ukrainians have been remarkably resilient , but without power for water and heat , millions more may leave their homes this winter in search for better conditions elsewhere in Europe. I'm Eric Schmidt. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project , a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Bob Woodruff Foundation. You're listening to KPBS midday Edition. I'm Jade Hyneman in our weekend preview. We have a special visual art and classical music collaboration , a blues musical and clothes made out of sauce packets. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , welcome.

S4: Hi , Jane. Thanks for having me.

S1: So what kind of source packets are we talking about ? Tell us about this very unique exhibit.

S4: Yeah , this is Ethan Chan. He's an installation and performance artist. He tends to use kind of outside the box materials. This is a new solo exhibition at the Oceanside Museum of Art. And for these pieces , he's collected a bunch , like , hundreds , I don't know , probably thousands of those free little source packets that you find at fast food restaurants , at gas stations and cafeterias. There's a huge range , like ketchup , mayo , hot sauce , soy sauce , horseradish , and some that I have never seen before. And Chan has fashioned them into these full outfits with shoes , sometimes with hats. And these are for his friends to wear. The outfits will be on view. They're hanging on the walls of the museum. But as a sort of performance art element , Chan also had his friends wear the sauce packet clothes while hanging out at home , going about their daily tasks. And these were photographed. And those photographs will be on view also. This opens on Saturday , and it's on view through the end of April. So your chances to see it this weekend are Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 5 p.m..


S4: These are like three dimensional. They look very squishy. So I would not sit down while wearing them.

S1: Well , at least you've got yourself a saucy outfit. Amazing. What you can turn into art for sure. So let's stay in the North County for one more at the Institute of Contemporary Art , San Diego's North campus. There's a special event with their visual artist in residence and one of San Diego's own composers.

S4: And it's anchored to the work of Toronto based visual artist Shelly Zheng. That's the current exhibition and residency there at ICA for this event. It's tonight. Zang will discuss her work with UC San Diego , distinguished professor of Music and composer Lei Liang. And then we'll talk about some of the points of intersection in their works. Themes like home , migration , the diaspora. And then out of L.A. will do a performance that spotlights some of Liang's work. This one is Liang's Gobi Canticle. It's for violin and cello , and it's based on Mongolian folk songs. And things exhibit itself is also totally worth a look before it closes on February 12th. This event is free , but you'll need to RSVP online. It's tonight from 530 to 830. The artist talk begins at 615 and the performance is at 715.

S1: All right. And it's a big weekend at Bread and Salt , too , with a few events and openings.

S4: Helen Kim is opening new video and performance works at best practice. That all starts at five on Saturday at 530. Artist Sybil Robotham will do a walk through of her exhibit at the Athenaeum Arts Center. Also bread and salt. She is about to retire from running the print studio there. So they're celebrating with this six decades survey of her work. And I love how , even though it pulls from so many different formats and eras of her work , it still feels really unified. Her works kind of fairytale like kind of mythic feeling and childlike. I talked to her and she says it's kind of her approach to art making.

S1: I want to make nice things , and it doesn't mean I don't care desperately about it. It's why I do want to do this.

S4: Also closing on the 28th is Marisol Rendon exhibit in the main Bread and Salt Gallery. And later that night , Francisco Amy will perform a production of Treatise on Violence put together by Project Plank. This is a multimedia production. It has photography , sound installations , field recordings , and then a performance of his music with opera , singing , even flute. And here's a little bit of his song , Los Desaparecidos. This is from the album that his multimedia production is based upon. The concert starts at 8:00 and it costs $10.

S1: One more. A blues musical at North Coast Repertory Theatre.

S4: It's conceived by legendary director Sheldon Epps , and it's one of those no dialogue shows where all of the story kind of unravels with the songs. And this one is about three women who all kind of fall for the same man , who all have their hearts broken. And some of the blues hits in the show are Blues in the Night by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer and Bessie Smith's. Nobody Knows You when You're Down and Out.

S5: Wants to live the Life of a millionaire. Then in my money , I didn't. Yeah , I carried my friend or a good number on bootleg liquor and pain and wine.

S4: The show is currently in previews and it officially opens on Saturday and it will be on stage through February 5th.

S1: You can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julia's weekly arts newsletter at KPBS dot org Slash Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks.

S4: Thank you , Jade. Have a good weekend.

S5: Nobody knows you when you turn it now. In my pocket. Not one bit. And my friends , I haven't any. Whatever. Never get on my feet again. And I'll be my long , long friend in my face. Without running down. Nobody knowing you when you know , out. I mean , when you down in the. Oh , oh , oh , oh , oh , oh for. When you down in our. Not one thing. And my friends , I am on any. And I felt so low. Nobody wants me around the door. Without a doubt. No , man. Can you ? You win. You doubt it ? No. I mean , when you down in the.

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While the recent rain wreaked havoc across the state, there is one small silver lining - California’s drought conditions are improving (slightly). Then, almost daily, weapons, equipment and other supplies depart the U.S. to support the Ukrainian military and civilian authorities. And finally, in our weekend preview, we have an Edgar Allan Poe musical for kids, a special visual art and classical music collaboration, a blues musical and clothes made out of sauce packets.