The latest prognostications for the first quarter of 2017 have been released by the National Weather Service, and Kaweah Country is sitting in an all-too-familiar position. The climate prediction maps for January to April 2017 have the central San Joaquin Valley and the southern Sierra region sitting on the fence — virtually on top of the line of demarcation between above average and below normal.
The “above average” is wetter than normal and higher than mean temperatures. The “below normal” typically means less precipitation and lower than mean temperatures.
In Kaweah Country during the last 30 years, the several El Nino years have been more often than not followed by a La Nina season. For Three Rivers, that has translated into colder and drier than the norm.
In the crazy era of climate change, it’s difficult to determine what is the new normal. The only constant meteorologists agree upon is that with each successive year overall temperatures of the Earth’s surface are warming.
So whether Kaweah Country gets significant rain and snow depends on how many storms dig down south from the Gulf of Alaska. Whether or not they make it all the way here depends on multiple factors like the position of the jet stream and how much moisture is aloft.
The likelihood of any Pineapple Express of warm Pacific moisture is almost non-existent. This past week might be an indicator of what’s in store.
The moisture that passed through early in the week left only a trace of rain in the foothills and snow in the highest elevations; this weekend’s series of storms will bring more than an inch of rainfall to Three Rivers and dump one to two feet of snow in the higher elevations of the nearby mountains.
For certain, it will be colder than average for the next few weeks, and after that long, warm summer that lasted through October, it will feel like winter has arrived although not officially until the Winter Solstice on December 21.
Nobody knows for certain but the odds are this season will produce less moisture than 2015-2016 and be quite a bit colder. After this weekend, the current rainfall total for Three Rivers at 1,000 feet elevation should eclipse three inches.
That’s enough to keep the creeks running and the green grass growing. This Thanksgiving make sure to take a moment and count your blessings. We’re not digging out of three feet of snow like back east, and when the passing rains clear the air, we have the best weather with changing seasons anywhere on the planet.