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Economy Watch: Rain &Trains

Will It Rain? The latest NOAA climate forecast expects ENSO-nuetral conditions through Spring but an El Nino pattern in summer.That would be bullish for rainfall next water year but not this one. After a record dry 2013 calendar year, January 2014 doesn’t look a bunch better but it does look “like the wettest month we have had in the past 12 months ” says one forecaster. Still, rain is expected to come into the state  January 7-10 but the extent of the predicted rain varies by experts models from a a piddle to a potential multi- day”atmospheric river, or ‘pineapple express’ – what we really need. Stay tuned next few days.

Here is the Farmers Almanack prediction for January in LA.Looks like they messed up on the first week for sure.”JANUARY 2014: temperature 53° (1° below avg.); precipitation 8″ (5″ above avg.); Jan 1-3: Clouds and occasional drizzle, cool; Jan 4-10: Heavy rain, then sunny, chilly; Jan 11-14: Heavy rain, mild; Jan 15-16: Showers; Jan 17-19: Heavy rain, mild; Jan 20-24: Rainy periods, cold; Jan 25-27: Sunny, cool; Jan 28-31: Rainy, cool.”

Dry 2014 could lead to plenty of fallow ground in the San Joaquin Valley to preserve what H2O there is  for  all those new permanent plantings. That could mean lots less cotton, grains and forage crops and high prices for alfalfa for the dairies.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 7.14.28 AMAnother dry year could lead to increased land subsidence in the Valley in the west Fresno County area. One big problem: the canals are sinking,cracking(see pic).

Mixed Weekly Rail Traffic Moving More Petroleum and Less Coal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dec. 26, 2013 – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 21, 2013 with 289,528 total U.S. carloads, down 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 255,456 units, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year.   Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,984 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including petroleum and petroleum products with 15,501 carloads, up 12.7 percent; and grain with 21,030 carloads, up 5.0 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included metallic ores and metals with 24,754 carloads, down 6.5 percent; and coal with 113,070 carloads, down 2.9 percent.

For the first 51 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,376,905 carloads, down 0.7 percent from the same point last year, and 12,659,296 intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2013 was 27,036,201 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year.

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