In the middle of 2016, El Niño appeared to be a bust – in fact, we even wrote a blog about it which you can find here. However, near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 California saw a historical downpour of rain that has helped alleviate the drought. In this blog, we are going to recap 2017’s historical year in California and look ahead towards 2018 and see what lies in store for us weather wise.
- The “water year” for California technically runs from October 1 to September 30, and this past year was one of the most wet years on record.
- Precipitation exceeded 100 inches in higher elevations like the Sierra Nevada Mountains and amounts around 25-50 inches at lower elevations.
- Snowpack in the mountains has increased dramatically along with reservoir levels with Lake Shasta around 73% full at the beginning of October – 23% higher than usual at that time of the year.
- The precipitation was the highest on record across the Northern Sierra Mountains and second highest on record in the San Joaquin Valley.
- As you can see on the drought monitor, this year has been huge in terms of alleviating the drought with 0% of California suffering from severe drought conditions or worse, while this number was almost 60% a year ago.
- La Niña is currently brewing in the Pacific Ocean and is expected to impact California weather.
- La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which we have spoken extensively about in the past which can be found here. La Niña typically brings cold and snowy conditions in the Pacific Northwest and drier weather in places like Southern California due to cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures along the equator in the Pacific. This means that we will likely have a dry winter in Southern California, but it may not be a terrible winter for all of California as a whole.
- With this being said, the future of California weather is still unclear. As for what exactly will happen this year, the federal government’s sharpest weather minds cannot predict whether La Niña will leave California with less rain, more rain, or the normal amount. Looks like we are just going to have to wait and see what happens, but if a dry winter does occur you know La Niña is to blame.
- If low rain were to occur, parts of California could return to drought like conditions; however, the conditions would be much less severe than they were years ago.
What do you think will happen? Let us know your prediction in the comments.