Rainfall was hard to come by this past winter in Southern California. The wet weather season, which kicked off on October 1st, started warm and very dry. In fact, the first storm event in Southern California did not occur until January. Luckily, it was a large event with around an inch or more of rain, but it ultimately represented about a third of the total seasonal rainfall. February remained dry and while additional storms in March made a lackluster attempt to catch up for the seasonal deficit, the entire season ultimately fell well below normal. Contrary to Southern California, the Sierra Nevada had a ‘Miracle March’ with about 200% of normal due to several atmospheric river fueled events. The snowpack wrapped up at 30-50% of average, which is approximately three time less than last year’s snowpack. The lower numbers this year are at least tempered by the significant snowpack the Sierra’s received last winter. However, Southern California skiing areas suffered, recording the 4th driest on record, 12th driest for snowfall, and the warmest as well.
The percent of average precipitation across the entire Southwest was 25-50% of average, including most of the Colorado River Basin (Figure 1). Southern California’s season to date precipitation was about 30 % of normal, roughly a mere 3.75 inches of rain compared to a normal 12.5 inches, below are a few of the seasonal totals.
Unfortunately, such a dry and warm winter is allowing the drought to expand. Due to the lack of rainfall in Colorado River Basin, drought expanded from the east towards the west (Figure 2). And the weather outlook for June through August, above normal temps with no indication for summer monsoon or wet weather for the Southwest. Here is an interesting fact, San Diego’s average monthly temperature has been above normal since October 2013, without a single month below normal in close to five years, will this trend of warm and dry weather continue?
ALTA Environmental is a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador (WRN) with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As a WRN Ambassador, ALTA supports NOAA’s initiatives to inspire others to be better informed and prepared, helping to minimize or avoid the impacts of natural disasters by educating employees and the business community on workplace preparedness. More information about WRN and weather preparedness can be found at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/.