Can Domino Droughts Be Stopped At Their Source?

The Domino Drought of 2012 [1] could have been avoided and will reoccur if nothing is done to fix the root cause.

What is a Domino Drought?

A Droughts occur when a lack of precipitation causes a water shortage. A Domino Drought is a series of droughts which occur in succession across a landscape. The lack of precipitation in the genesis drought reduces precipitation from transport downwind from the genesis drought. This can reduce precipitation in the successive regions by over 50% triggering the domino drought effect.

So how can they be stopped?

By locating the genesis drought location and making suitable corrections to that local environment. The Stanford Study focused on the 2012 Domino Drought [2], so let’s use that as our example.

What was the originating location of the 2012 Domino Drought?

California. The California drought was distributed across the state but is really made up of two pieces.

The first piece…

This most obvious piece was the part caused by changing ocean currents with reduced rainfall along the Pacific coastline. I agree that this may have had some effect on the Domino Drought, but I think its effect was minimal because almost all the eastbound moisture from the Pacific Ocean is pulled from the air as it travels over the Rocky Mountains.

The second piece…

The less obvious piece is found in southwest California, and northwest Mexico. The root cause of this local drought is the over extraction of water from the Colorado River [3]. I do not expect that the excessive diversion of water from the Colorado River will cease, but something can be done to fix the unintended result of those extractions.

The Colorado River is totally used up.

There is so much water being redirected from the flow of the Colorado River that it runs dry before it reaches the ocean [4]. This maybe viewed as a good thing because humans are getting maximum usage of the naturally fresh water before it commingles with saltwater. However, so much water is being extracted that the flow could dry before the Colorado River even reaches the Mexican border; which is bad for the residents of Mexicali, MX whom depend on that water for their life. Still, Mexico uses the balance of the Colorado River water and there is no water left for downstream flow, leaving a dry riverbed south of Mexicali.

Colorado River Watershed Water Cycle.

What is the unintended result?

The unintended result is that the Water Cycle has been broken. Most simply stated; the Colorado River Basin Water Cycle is: Laguna Salada > Salton Sea > Death Valley > The Great Salt Lake > Colorado River > > Laguna Salada. With the water being all used, Laguna Salada receives no refilling water [5] from the Colorado River. A dry Laguna Salada has no water to evaporate for rain/snow/mist for the surrounding area and Southwest California, and also none to send north to the Salton Sea. Just like that the Water Cycle is broken and a drought commences in southwest California and northwest Mexico. This drought dominos up through Salton Sea; Death Valley, The Great Salt Lake, and places less water in the Colorado River; which creates a water shortage in the Colorado River Watershed.

Can we fix this?

It is unlikely that we can stop using water from the Colorado River, but we can refill Laguna Salada with water. Laguna Salada translation to English is Salt Lagoon. Laguna Salada covers a large land area and at its deepest it is 30 meters below sea-level in its lowest place. The calculated evaporation rate from Laguna Salada is considered to be very large, which points to its vital contribution to the Hydrologic Cycle. Laguna Salada has a dry stream bed leading from it to the Sea of Cortex (Gulf of California). By reversing the flow of the dry stream bed to allow ocean water to flood Laguna Salada, the water cycle can be repaired.

Is that a lot of digging/dredging?

The dry riverbed from Laguna salads to the sea of Cortez is about 81km (60mi) long. Half a century ago it was widened and straightened. The length, while it sounds like a lot, is considerably less than the California Canals: All-American Canal = 130km (80mi) long; Colorado River Aqueduct = 329km (242mi). One other thing to consider is that the amount of effort to reverse the flow of an existing stream is much less than that which was needed to transport the water from the Colorado River over/around/through the Rocky Mountains to California.


By filing Laguna Salada with ocean water we can repair the Colorado River Water Cycle, avoid future Domino Droughts, and help reduce the problems of Climate Change.

Climate Change?

How did I get to reducing the problems related to Climate Change? One of those concerns is the increased level of oceans. By removing water from the ocean and placing it in Laguna Salada the ocean level will be reduced. It is just that simple.


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