After a nearly decade-long drought, the state known for its endless summer, is now home to a seemingly endless winter, with eight feet of snow on the ground in some of the western mountain ranges.
USA Today reported on this unusual phenomenon across the West:
Snow from the barrage of storms that pounded the western mountains over the winter is still on the ground. Many mountains in the Rockies, Sierra and Cascades are packed with at least 8 feet of snow, the National Weather Service said, creating a dream summer for skiers and snowboarders.
The Mammoth Mountain ski area in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is seeing its “best spring conditions in decades … and will be operating DAILY into August for one of our longest seasons in history,” the resort said on its website. “When will this endless winter end? We don’t have that answer yet, but we do know that the skiing and riding is all-time right now.”
Summer shredding! Mammoth will be open daily into August with the best conditions in the country. Get out here and get your summer shred on. pic.twitter.com/9TqKKFBAsl
— MammothMountain (@MammothMountain) May 26, 2017
Just a year and a half ago, Gov. Jerry Brown was threatening to fine anyone in the state that took a shower longer than 10 minutes, and farmers in the Central Valley were told they would not receive their annual water allocation from the state.
Then came the rain, which flooded rivers and damaged the nation’s highest dam in Oroville responsible for storing almost two-thirds of the state’s drinking water. (The failure of the Oroville Dam’s main spillway — and fears of imminent failure should the untested, earthen emergency spillway be used too much — forced Brown to go hat-in-hand to President Trump to beg for emergency federal relief funds, which Trump immediately approved.)
Absent those emergency repairs, additional rainfall combined with a record snowpack could have spelled disaster, and is sure to put pressure on California’s crumbling water infrastructure — something that is likely to become a major political issue in an already contentious gubernatorial race.
Officials in the region are warning hikers to avoid certain areas where the trails can be undermined by rapid snowmelt, and underground streams can appear overnight under the surface snow.
River rafting can also be treacherous this time of year, with USA Today reporting that “[o]ver the Memorial Day weekend, three people died and 24 required rescue from the swollen and frigid Kern River in southern California. All three deaths involved rafting incidents.”