FIRST - HERE'S HOW THE NEXT 7 DAYS LOOK
Temperatures will likely be at or above normal the next 7 days.
The tail end of a low pressure system will swing through So Cal today and Tuesday, cooling temperatures off briefly tomorrow, and creating windy conditions in many areas late today through Wednesday. Details below:
Today and Tonight: Occasional high clouds, with the possibility of another stunning sunset with lenticular clouds this evening. Winds will be increasing this afternoon, becoming WNW20-40, G50 in the normally windy I-10 corridor from Whitewater down to Indio. By this evening and into tonight, some gusts will occasionally head south into the northern and central areas of Palm Springs, as well as the possibility of occasional erratic SW winds blowing down into the Indian Canyons/Andreas Hills area as well. Areas with strongest gusts may see areas of blowing dust and sand. Central Palm Springs near the airport may see rotors, so winds may shift from NW to ESE at times. Continued warm today - high near 90, low tonight in the 50's to near 60.
Tuesday and Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy skies at times, with occasionally windy conditions. WNW 20-30, G40 in the normally windy I-10 corridor areas, with areas of blowing dust and sand possible. Cooler, with highs near 80, lows in the low-mid 50's.
Wednesday: Clear skies, with winds shifting to NNE 15-25, G35 in the morning and early afternoon hours. Winds most likely to blow in the DHS/Sky Valley areas, and along Hwy 62 from I-10 up into Yucca Valley. High temps 75-82, lows in the 50's.
Thursday - Saturday: Sunny skies, and warmer... with highs mid 80's - low 90's... and lows in the mid 50's to low 60's.
Extended Outlook: A trough of low pressure is expected to build into California next week, with much cooler weather. Some parts of the state may see areas of high winds, rain and mountain snow. It is unclear if our area will receive additional precipitation, or if we will remain mostly dry, as we have for most of the storms this month. More details later this week!
CURRENT PRECIPITATION AND DROUGHT INFORMATION
Spring is here, which is a good time to look back on our rainfall thus far. Just where do we stand with the drought? I have pulled together some of the latest data to share with everyone.
This winter has not acted as most weather forecasters had predicted. El Nino was expected to bring heavy precipitation to Southern California, with lesser amounts to the northern portions of the state and the Pacific Northwest. Instead, the opposite occurred. Southern California remains with mostly below average rainfall this winter, whereas precipitation increases as one moves north. Central California is just below or at average precipitation, and many areas of Northern California have seen at or above normal amounts. Moving even further north, parts of Oregon and Washington have experienced record rainfall this year. It's apparent the weather patterns shifted to the north, sparing Southern California from the expected onslaught.
Here is a comparison of the snow water equivalent of the snow pack for the North, Central and Southern portions of the High Sierras. This year is marked in blue... and last year's deplorable figures are listed in red.
The information shows this year is almost normal in the north, almost 90% of normal in the central portion, and almost 75% in the southern Sierras. This is a fantastic improvement compared to last years figures, which were only 10-30% of normal. Here's another graphic detailing the same information.
March rains were beneficial to many of the reservoirs across the state as well. Some of the states largest reservoirs, including Lake Shasta, Oroville and Folsom, are actually ABOVE average capacity at the moment... a first for the last several years. This is good news, considering the majority of the seasons seasonal snow melt has not yet occurred, and will add to the lakes in the coming months. Some of the lakes were rising over 2 feet per day in March during the heavy rain episodes! Here are a few comparisons showing the remarkable transformations:
Despite the GOOD news in the North, many of the reservoirs in the Central and South portion of the state are still well BELOW normal. Note the percentages in red, which indicate the current capacity as compared to historical average.
Increased rainfall combined with water restrictions have helped some areas of the state's groundwater supply. This map shows some areas of the Coachella Valley have even improved, as some of the nearby rain and snowfall in the mountains have helped contribute. Other areas have continued to see depletion, especially throughout portions of Orange County.
OUTLOOK FOR APRIL
At this point, long range forecasting continues to show the possibility of several storm cycles dumping additional rain and snowfall in Central and Northern California. This is much needed, and will add to the water resources so desperately needed if they come to fruition. The outlook for Southern California appears a bit more bleak, with much weaker chances of significant stormy weather.
In summary, the drought has lessened in many areas of the state, but it still continues. While average to slightly above average precipitation is GREAT news, it has not eaten into the cumulative rainfall deficits we have experienced the past several years. The areas of exceptional drought have reduced from 46% of the state last October down to 34.74% as of March 17. The areas of severe drought have reduced from 71.08% of the state last October down to 55.31% of the state as of March 17. Less than 1% of the state has become drought free, mostly in the extreme northwest corner near the Oregon border. This still indicates a serious situation, just a less dire one than we experienced at this time last year.
Once we have made it into May, we can take one last look at the precipitation figures to see if there have been any additional late-season improvements. Otherwise, we will go into the normally dry early summer season soon... with our next shot of rainfall typically starting during the finicky summer monsoon season, which usually starts in mid July.