Developing El Nino could rescue California


After four consecutive seasons of a deepening drought, it appears that relief is on the way for California. It won’t arrive until at least October but the little weather waif will make its presence known even before then.

An El Nino is the outcome of the above-normal warming of surface ocean temperatures near the equator. Climatologists are pretty much in agreement: California is in for some water in the next rainy season in the form of plenty of precipitation.

Professor David Pares, who teaches climatology at the University of Nebraska, has studied El Nino for three decades and says this 2015-2016 version is the real deal. 

“Right now, we are in La Nina, which is going in the opposite direction toward Indonesia,” Pares said.

Californians can look forward to a more positive future because both the coast and inland areas will get much -needed rain. Some weather watchers are predicting a wetter than normal summer too.

The effects of an El Nino, in addition to a succession of Pacific storms, are a generally more quiet hurricane season and a warmer late fall and winter. 


Rainfall totals

To date in the current season, as of Thursday, May 21, Three Rivers at the 1,000-foot elevation level has received 11.08 inches of rainfall.

The recent storm of Thursday, May 14, dumped up to an inch of rain around Three Rivers. The storm also brought snow to the 7,000-foot level in the mountains but it quickly melted. May has been know to have triple-digit temperatures but not so this year.

Although there has been a little more rainfall than last season, the snowpack is non-existent. There was so little snow in the high country that the May 1 snow survey, what is traditionally the final measurement of the year, was cancelled.


Lake Kaweah levels

As of May 21, the storage at Lake Kaweah was 66,665 acre feet, just slightly more than one-third capacity. More typical readings in the past for the Memorial Day weekend have been 140,000 acre feet and approaching a peak fill level by June 1.

“We’ve got some water in the lake right now for boaters but in terms of the needs of downstream users, we have a lot of catching up to do,” said a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee at Lake Kaweah.

The downside, weather experts are saying, is that Californians must wait for several months for the storms to come. There’s an old adage: Good things come to those wait. In this case the good thing is water and the wait has been four long, dry years.


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