Springtime has been toasty and nice here in the desert the past several weeks. The low desert's major music festivals have now come and gone, and we have been free of damaging windstorms since that last crazy event March 30th that caused so much damage throughout portions of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage. I managed to capture many images from that late day event - here are a few below:
CALIFORNIA SNOWPACK IS IN AMAZING SHAPE
The latest data shows incredible amounts of snow still on the ground in the states highest elevations, especially north of Southern California. The latest automated snow depth data at the Tioga Pass entrance gate to Yosemite National Park (Highway 120), at an elevation of 9,945 feet, shows a whopping 17.25 feet of snow still on the ground! This is a loss of about 4 inches in depth the past week or so. Mammoth Mountain appears set to remain open for skiing through July 4th, and some Tahoe area resorts are exploring the possibility of remaining open all summer and into next fall! Incredible snowpack up there!
The latest hydrology surveys show the snow pack to our north is averaging not far from 200% of normal currently. This will certainly create a lot of water for creeks and rivers as we move into summer, and is likely to contribute to an incredible wildflower season in the higher mountain areas that are able to become snow free. The mid range mountain areas under 9,000 feet may be spectacular starting after the last frosts in June! Latest data show over 40 inches of rainfall water equivalent stored in the snowpack currently (source: California Department of Water Resources). Data below is for the South, Central and Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains:
WET AND COOLER WEATHER TO RETURN NEXT WEEK?
The rest of this week should remain mostly clear with hotter temperatures. Some afternoon and evening breeziness is possible as the week progresses, but high temps should remain in the 98-106 range through Friday, with lows in the U 60's - M 70's. This will definitely remind us of the summertime heat that awaits us all very soon!
Starting around Saturday and continuing through around Tuesday or Wednesday, cooler weather is expected, along with periods of wind, and scattered showers or thunderstorms at times, as a system is expected to drop from the northwest.
A low pressure is expected to become cutoff from the jet stream, becoming quasi-stationary and parking itself somewhere near Southern California. This is a very difficult weather pattern to predict, so it's best not to become too confident in the details this early on. However, it is fairly certain the weather will turn cooler. Depending upon where the storm system eventually settles in, it is possible that afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms could develop over the nearby mountains for several days. Snow is a remote possibility on the highest mountain peaks. If thunderstorms are slow movers, this could create heavy rainfall for one specific location and drop little to no rainfall in other areas. We will have to watch the storm as it develops for further clues into its expected behavior.
At this point, it appears low desert high temps will likely drop back into the mid 80's or low 90's on Sunday, and possibly down to the 70's on Sunday or Monday, before recovering mid week.
Take away here is if you enjoy the heat, you will like the weather this week! But get out and enjoy it before the wind and cool return once again over the weekend!
LONG TERM OUTLOOK
Not many weather forecasters are going out on a limb with this, but all signs are pointing toward another El Nino phenomenon building over the East Central Pacific this summer and fall. Water temperatures have been climbing upward in those regions and indications are that this may continue the next several months. After being burned by such wild predictions several years ago, the science community is being much more cautious and mum about the building sea temperature differentials at the moment. I've even been wondering if there are any studies that might connect our incredible winter deluges this year with the El Nino from the winter before. Keep an ear open for this bad boy over the upcoming summer, as it will undoubtedly bring forecasters more headaches as they attempt to predict what weather patterns will look like for the West Coast next winter.