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Weather & Science

‘Hydroclimate Whiplash’ Worsens California’s Storms and Drought

Air made warmer by climate change is exacerbating both aridity and precipitation, leading to double-whammy weather cycles. 

Workers build a flood protection barrier at the entrance to a business in the Mission District of San Francisco. 

Workers build a flood protection barrier at the entrance to a business in the Mission District of San Francisco. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

In recent years, extreme storms being juiced by climate change familiarized the general public with terms like “bomb cyclone” and “atmospheric river.” Now a string of storms in California is showcasing another unwelcome weather reality of the warming world: “hydroclimate whiplash.”

After years of megadrought left the land parched, California experienced so much heavy rain so quickly that the governor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as another storm system prepared to unload on the state. And forecasters have predicted more rain for the weekend.