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California Snowing on Such a Winter’s Day

March 10, 2013

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Brrrrr! It’s not a word you normally hear in sunny Southern California, but last week was not so sunny.

Instead, two storms roared through the Southwest bringing rain, chilly weather and snow in the mountains.

It was wonderful!

Snow in the West – it’s a beautiful thing! Source: Zink Dawg at en.wikipedia

If you live in the Desert Southwest, any rain or snow is welcome. Unfortunately, this winter has been relatively dry. For the millions who depend on the run-off from the mountain snowmelt, this is bad news. Last year, there was enough water in the reservoirs for people to enjoy their lawns, gardens and golf courses. Farmers could irrigate their crops. This year, there might be some restrictions.

The snow in the Southwest depends on the Pacific, particularly the Tropical Pacific. When the tropical waters are warm, like they are during an El Niño, the global winds carry moisture deep into the Desert Southwest. When they are cool, the winds tropical moisture is usually steered away. The weather tends to be cooler and drier.

This year the waters have been cooler. They are not a cold La Niña, but they have been cool enough that the Golden state and much of the West has been drier than normal. There has not been as much snow as normal. That is not only bad news for the skiers, hungry for powder snow on their slopes, but also for next year’s river runoff.

Click to see larger picture.

This year’s snowpack has been low. That is not good news for Western rivers or water supplies. Source: USDA

Fortunately, as the latest two storms have shown, the Pacific is beginning to change. The Tropical Pacific is beginning to warm up. It is a process that can take weeks, even months, but it should bring some spring snowfall to the mountains. It won’t be enough to fill all of the reservoirs, but it will help.

For those of you who chose to live in “Sunny California” for the sunshine, this may be annoying. However, any rain and snow will mean more water for farms, lawns and gardens. So try to remember where you stored your umbrellas and jackets and pass the time reading your seed catalogs for your summer garden.

Cold and snow in California and the Southwest now, means more water this summer. Source: Huntington Gardens in Wikipedia

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Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, blogger, writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac, and editor of The Browning Newsletter, has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.

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Comments

I live in north CA and this

By deb389

I live in north CA and this winter has been rather dry. Here in the pacific northwest we havent been much in the way of snow this year, especially cities such as Portland and Seattle. We've been stuck under a warm ridge for a while. Any rain would be a welcome sight as if things continue we'll be under a drought

Why does it seem like this

By Julia S.

Why does it seem like this winter is so endless??? Snowstorm after snowstorm!! Good grief! Old man winter is still going for it and its almost mid March. Mother nature must still have her calendar on February. I think it has snowed in every state this year. Even in sunny Florida and California, I believe it has snowed.
We need some REAL spring over the lower 48.. will our growing season be later this year in the upper south? I feel like were having a late spring.. Phil lied!!

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