Big California Rain and Snow
The strong El Nino of 2015/2016 was supposed to be the big savior in helping to alleviate the California drought as well as very dry conditions in the Southwest. The 2015/2016 El Nino, while not a dud, certainly did not meet expectations as the big rains and snows did not come at the pace expected.
Fast forward to the very weak La Nina of 2016 and we are experiencing record amounts of precipitation in California and in many areas of the west. A very unique pattern of alternating pools of warm and cool weather in the North Pacific has helped to create what is known as the “Pineapple Express."
The very energetic and moist storm pattern than has developed since the beginning of the year has brought one storm after another moving into the west.
While there are many areas in central and southern California still under drought conditions, a severe dent in the drought has occurred over the past six weeks and there is more to come as we head into February and March.
Some of the key snowpack areas of California have exceeded over 200% of normal. Large and key reservoirs in California will have possible record amounts of runoff this spring season. The graphic below shows snowpack conditions as a percent of normal through Jan. 21.
Most of the key snowpack areas in the west are well above normal (above 100% of normal) with only a handful below normal.
The amount of rain and snow in the Northern Sierras of California are at a pace to exceed the record water year of 1982/1983. The graph below shows the current water year (beginning October 2016) is ahead of the wettest year on 1982-1983.
The 50.8 inches of water accumulated is already ahead of the normal amount of 50.0 inches for the whole water year!