Snow the Rain

February 1, 2015

jpeg-26Overcast with a sense of rain in the air — early Sunday here on California’s north coast is quiet with just a hint of bright coming from the east, a narrow slice just below the clouds.
Seemingly, rain is indeed in the forecast, though, only a ‘chance‘ today, and a bit more maybe tomorrow, but toward end of the week, another storm system feeding off an ‘atmospheric river’ should arrive along with heavy moisture.

Although in the every-little-bit-helps routine, the first month of 2015 produced way-little rain toward helping California’s drought (via Reuters): ‘California has experienced one of the driest Januarys on record, and the lack of rain during a time of year when the weather is usually wet indicates the state is likely headed for a fourth straight year of drought, officials said.’

Worse than no rain — no snow.

(Illustration found here).

The drought continues as snowpack equals water, and there’s near-about no pack anywhere in California — from National Geographic on Friday:

Statewide, the water trapped in the form of snow is just a quarter of the amount usually found at this time of year, California’s Department of Water Resources reported shortly after teams returned from measuring snow levels at Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada mountains, southwest of Lake Tahoe.
Mountain snows provide, on average, nearly a third of California’s water, with January typically the state’s wettest month.
“Clearly not good news,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, which tracks snow conditions.
“With this paltry a snowpack, the runoff is going to be pretty sparse.”

It’s not just the amount of water in the snowpack that makes it important.
It’s the way snow locks water in place during the winter like a giant natural reservoir, then gradually releases it as snowmelt in the spring and summer.
That release process helps keep man-made reservoirs filled during the hottest time of the year.
Those reservoirs are already running well below their historic levels for this time of year.
Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is at 66 percent of normal.
Lake Oroville, the second largest, is at 62 percent.

Our own local waterhole, Ruth Lake, located in Trinity County, was of two weeks ago, ‘24 feet shallower than it would normally be at this time of year,’ and getting smaller — from the Mad River Union:

The drought has lowered lake levels to the point that there is only one boat launch open at the marina. With the water level slowing dropping, that launch may be unusable by the end of next week.
“It just gets shallower day by day,” said Steve Canale, manager of the Ruth Lake Community Services District.

Even with this year’s low rainfall, the lake is now at 55 percent – enough water to supply HBMWD customers in McKinleyville, Arcata, Blue Lake, Fieldbrook, Eureka, Cutten and Manila for an entire year.

Rain coming, no snowing in the mountains…

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