In my last post, I wrote about how long-suffering California is having a good start to the water year as weather patterns have changed and so far, ample rainfall has fallen across the Golden State. A series of powerful storms this weekend and continuing this week has already caused flooding and widespread damage across parts of California. In Sacramento, Monday marked the first time in ten years that officials opened the Sacramento Weir to divert floodwaters to the Yolo Bypass and prevent further damage downstream. Strong winds also toppled the iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree, a hollowed-out sequoia large enough for cars to drive through. Further “atmospheric river” storms are expected to hit across the state as the week continues.
What a difference a year makes. In a series of posts that I authored in late 2015 and early 2016, I wrote about how the potential “Godzilla” El Niño had the possibility to wipe out at least some of the drought conditions, provided that the drought-relieving storms tracked in a direction that would hit California. Unfortunately for California, the “drought-busting” rains did not come to alleviate the drought. Instead, atmospheric conditions pushed storms largely to the north, providing a deluge to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. In fact, Seattle recorded the wettest period from October 1 to March 1 on record, receiving 38.22 inches of rain during that time. Parts of northern California received decent amounts of rainfall, but the majority of the Central Valley and southern California remained dry. However, since then, weather patterns have changed in a way that may favor a wetter winter for California. Continue reading
Last winter, California was supposed to bear the brunt of a “Godzilla El Niño” that would go a long way towards alleviating the drought here. Instead, a host of atmospheric conditions largely sent storms that most meteorologists predicted would hit California to the Pacific Northwest. As such, Northern California, Oregon and Washington experienced the majority of the storms while Southern California largely remained warm and dry. The winter storms helped to alleviate the drought in Oregon, but not completely erase it. According to the US Drought Monitor, extreme drought covered 67.29% of Oregon a year ago and 67.96% of Washington State. Currently, 32.78% of Oregon and 92.09% of Washington are drought free. Only 2.63% of Oregon’s land area has severe drought; Washington has none. During the winter of 2015-16, storms that many meteorologists initially believed would “bust the drought” in California eventually tracked to the Pacific Northwest. From December 1, 2015 to March 1, 2016, Seattle received more than 25 inches of rain – one of the soggiest winters on record. However, the lingering effects of the drought remain in both states. Low reservoirs, drought-affected forests and tough growing conditions have all presented challenges to the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading