Rain three weeks in a row; snow coming this weekend

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Using new modeling techniques, last week the National Weather Service issued this map projecting above-average precipitation in Southern California for the next two weeks.
Photo courtesy National Weather Service

Has Southern California weather cloaked itself in the world of DC Comics? Weather forecasts for the past two years seem to come either from Superman’s “Bizarro” world or another devious trick from Batman’s nemesis “The Joker.”

The winter of 2015-16 did not approach forecasts of one of the wettest El Niño seasons ever.

Last summer, forecasters announced that this winter was likely to be a La Niña (drier-than-normal) weather pattern. Through Friday, the Hill has received well-above-average rainfall. At higher elevations, snowfall has blanketed the mountain.

Northern California has benefited from several more and larger storms so far this winter. As a result, reservoirs are rising and the National Weather Service has removed the drought status from most of that part of the state. The “Extreme” and “Exceptional” drought conditions are mainly focused in Southern California. The worse conditions begin at the coast and lessen moving east.

Last week, Pine Cove recorded nearly 3 inches of rain, bringing the total since July 1 to 18.3 inches of rain. Historic average rainfall through the end of February is 18.7 inches.

Much snow and rain are predicted for Thursday through next week, so Pine Cove rain should exceed the February total before the end of January.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Keenwild Ranger Station has recorded 13.5 inches and should reach the January historic average of 14.2 inches this weekend.

The latest NWS long-term prediction has neutral weather conditions beginning in February, but “the atmospheric impacts from La Niña could persist during the upcoming months.” Consequently, the long-term forecast is for higher temperatures and below-median precipitation.

However, in the next two weeks, NWS is forecasting above-average precipitation in Southern California, which declines to below-average over the next month.

Even with the abundant precipitation, the fire agencies’ Predictive Services unit advises, “One or two wet months do not erase a multiyear drought. It would take many months of well above normal rainfall to allow drought conditions to end entirely across the area. Precipitation deficits accrued during the past 5 years can be measured in feet across the high country and it may be a multiyear process to see the drought end altogether.”

Besides helping streams and groundwater reserves, the rain mixed with snow affected Idyllwild School last week. Thursday evening’s snow caused a late opening Friday morning and later in the day, middle school students were allowed to leave when the elementary classes ended about 1:30 p.m.

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