It is safe to report that the drought has ended for this spring and possibly the summer of 2019. Whether it returns in 2020 is unknown.
But precipitation — rain and snowfall — data are sufficient to drench the dreaded drought for the duration of spring and early summer. While Monday and Tuesday were warmer, the National Weather Service forecasts slightly lower temperatures through the weekend and possibly more rain over the weekend.
The massive snowfall that occurred last week colored the Hill white. The first snowstorm was Sunday. Then from Wednesday through Thursday, another larger, stronger and colder storm passed and measured in double figures. It is still melting but with marginal appearance of the ground surface.
The Idyllwild Fire Station recorded more than 10 inches, the most in Riverside County. But the temperatures were so low over the Hill that 8.5 inches of snow fell in Garner Valley. Two inches were recorded in Anza and measurable snow fell as far east and south as County Fire Station 30 in Pinyon Pines.
In fact, Highway 74 east of its intersection with Highway 371 was the scene of a major vehicle blockage Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Between 20 and 50 vehicles blocked the roadway. The California Highway Patrol and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department focused on clearing the highway. The Riverside County Emergency Management Department found warm shelter at the Anza Community Center and Cal Fire Station 53 in Garner Valley overnight for the stranded drivers and passengers. By Thursday morning, 13 vehicles were still trapped along the highway.
Over the weekend, CHP managed a checkpoint at Lake Hemet. Residents, employees and renters were permitted to continue on to Idyllwild. But vehicles without any proof of need to be in Idyllwild were turned back, and many were, according to CHP.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Keenwild Ranger Station has recorded 24.8 inches of rain since Oct. 1. The long-term average rainfall during this five-month period is 16.3 inches and the March average is 4.1.
The NWS forecast for the next two weeks is that the chance of precipitation is 40 to 60 percent greater than normal.
As of Monday morning, there has been no change in Caltrans’ estimates of when highways 74 and 243 will be reopened. Highway 74 may be closed a month and Highway 243 may be several months from reopening. Friday’s press released stated, “long-term closure.”
Idyllwild students riding the bus to Hemet High School will be driven through Anza. The ride begins one hour earlier and they arrive back in Idyllwild about an hour later than normal.