March miracle looming off the California coast

With a series of storms in the 10-day forecast, these blooming redbud trees will sustain their colorful bursts a few weeks more.

With a season total of less than six inches of rainfall (March 15), the 15-day forecast has some good news right when most folks could use some cheering up. According to climatologist Daniel Swain, the entire state of California is going to get a “good soaking” and the Sierra Nevada is going to get one of those classic winter storms dumping several feet of snow.

So what has changed after the driest February on record? The big picture over the North Pacific actually hasn’t changed much — there’s still stubborn high pressure parked south and southwest of Alaska. But a subtle westward shift is allowing some late-March storms to dive southward.

The net result is these cold storms will finally start producing widespread precipitation instead of just dry offshore winds. Along the way, they’ll be able to pick up moisture from the Pacific.

For the Kaweah Country foothills, that means some steady rainfall, heavy at times. In the Sierra Nevada, these late-March storms will bring some snowfall events measured in feet of snow, especially for the mountains north of Yosemite.

These late-season storms are not really a big surprise. During this new normal of climate change, more precipitation is coming in March and April that not too long ago came in January and February. In 2018, a miraculous March turned that season from deepening drought to near normal. Here’s hope that 2020 is deja vu all over again.

With a soaking rain or two in the forecast, lupine, mariposa lily, Chinese houses, brodiaea, satin bells, poppies, Ithuriel’s spear, yucca, et al., can finally get their chance to explode in colorful displays succeeding these early-season bloomers (fiddleneck and popcorn), shown here in the Salt Creek area of Three Rivers.

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