California’s ‘White Christmas’ Breaks December Snowfall Record in Sierra, Easing Drought

White Christmas in Crestline (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

CRESTLINE, California — A winter snowstorm this weekend dumped nearly 40 inches of snow on the Sierra Nevada mountains from Sunday into Monday, breaking the record for snowfall in December, and possibly signaling relief in California’s two-year-old drought.

The storm brought the total snowfall recorded in December to 193.7 inches, and forced the closure of resorts near Lake Tahoe, which had been bone dry as recently as Thanksgiving weekend but now have more snow than they can handle.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

On Monday, the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab, located northwest of Lake Tahoe at Donner Pass, recorded 38.9 inches of snowfall over the previous 24 hours — bringing the monthly total to 193.7 inches so far for December. The previous December record was in 1970, with 179 inches of snow.

“We smashed the snowfall record for December, which is crazy because it didn’t start snowing until about three weeks ago, and we didn’t have any snow for six weeks prior to that,” [OpenSnow forecaster Brian] Allegretto said.

After receiving huge early-season snow dumps at the end of October, Tahoe was hit with a warm, dry spell in November that kept the mountains around Tahoe all but dirt bare.

This month’s mammoth snowstorms also helped bolster California’s snowpack: The state increased its snowpack average from 18% on Dec. 1 to 153% through Monday, according to state data.

Snow continued into the week, with storms Monday and Tuesday, and possibly on Friday as well, the last day of December.

Other mountainous parts of California, including the mountains north of San Bernardino, have received heavy snowfall this week, bringing a late “white Christmas” to the higher elevations in the state, and much-needed rain below.

Since the wet winters of 2017-2018, California has suffered a severe drought, akin to the drought from 2011-2017. Water users already faced increasing restrictions, and residential users may be required to ration use unless the state’s reservoirs and snowpack can recover.

Though California has failed to invest in water storage throughout its largely dry decade, the unexpected winter storms bring hope that 2022, at least, might be less dry, and that the drought could yet be broken.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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