I had thought “Waiting for a Miracle” was originally done by the Grateful Dead. It turns out the song was written by Leonard Cohen.
But it might just as well be the theme song for California water wonks.
It's been an abysmally dry year, through February – the seventh driest of the last 107 years as measured by the Eight River index. But with storms coming in from the Pacific Ocean this week there's hope of another miracle March. We had such months twice during the six-year drought from 1987 to 1992.
In 1989, as figure 1 shows, the combined flow of the rivers which comprise the index for December through February was only 2.5 million acre-feet. After a series of storms, the March index alone was more than 6 million acre-feet.
Two years later, with only 1.2 million acre-feet of runoff through February, 1991 was on track to be the driest year on record. March brought 2.6 million acre-feet of flow – more of a minor miracle but still more than twice the previous three months, but very welcome nonetheless.
Will we get lucky again? We will have to wait and see. Here is a catchy little tune to listen to as you watch the raindrops fall.