The “March Miracle” storm system that has lashed California for the last four days, dumping 6 feet of snow in the Sierra Mountains, just ended what appeared to be a new drought.
Breitbart News reported a week ago that the U.S. Drought Monitor had estimated that 92 percent of California was “abnormally dry,” 48 percent was in “moderate drought,” and 20 percent was in “severe drought.” The situation had become so grim that the U.S. National Weather Service’s Climate Outcome Likelihood website estimated the probability of the state receiving its average annual rainfall was just 9 percent.
But in the first four days of March, Winter Storm Quinn increased the 2017-2018 annual snowfall in California’s Sierra Mountains by almost 50 percent. With Mammoth Mountain Ski Area hammered by 60 inches of new snow, and winds gusting up to 100 miles an hour, a March 3 avalanche partially buried three skiers and caused closure of all lifts and ski runs.
The Arctic storm dumped more snow on the morning of March 4 as the tail end of the storm system moved off to the east. The Weather Service is forecasting five days of clear skies, warming temperatures, and low winds across for California mountain areas. But a new storm system is forecast to bring another snow dump across the Sierras beginning on March 8.
Mammoth Mountain and other Sierra ski areas utilized ski patrol staff early this morning to dynamite certain areas as a precaution to eliminate the potential avalanche risks. With about 7.5 feet of snow at lower altitudes, 9 feet at middle levels, and 11 feet at high elevations, Mammoth is operating 27 of its 28 lifts, and 126 of 148 ski runs are open.
The California Department of Water Resources reported that the water levels at all of California’s major reservoirs — except Oroville, which is under major repair — are once again at or above their average annual levels. Rainwater runoff surging down rivers could force several dams to open their spillways to prevent the risk of water topping dams.
As Winter Storm Quinn marches relentlessly eastward across the country this week, it will produce blizzard conditions in the northern Plains before spreading snow and wind through the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, and then potentially forming into another Northeast coastal storm. The National Weather Service is issuing new flood warnings.
The Nor’easter Winter Storm Riley, which killed at least nine people in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, has left 1.9 million customers without power from the mid-Atlantic to the Great Lakes. States of emergency were declared in Maryland and Virginia, while residents along the New England coast were warned that additional flooding was possible on March 4.