WEATHER WATCH – March 23, 2018: It’s been a crazy couple of days of weather in Kaweah Country. On Thursday afternoon, a serious thunderstorm cell parked over Three Rivers for about an hour, putting on a show of lightning and thunder before the heavens opened up and let loose with nearly an inch of rain (1,000 feet elevation) in about 15 minutes. The Middle Fork of the Kaweah River’s flow, which had peaked at 3,400 cfs in the wee hours of Thursday morning spiked back to over 5,000 cfs due to the deluge.
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The four inches of rain that soaked Three Rivers on Wednesday and Thursday (March 21-22) was nothing short of miraculous.
Call it what you will, but in late February when Three Rivers had received less than five inches for the entire season, more than doubling that amount in the first three weeks of March, was beyond unexpected.
To put that precipitation in context, 11 inches of rain for a season is still only 50 to 60 percent of the April 1 norm but it definitely alleviates the worst of California’s fears of another season of extreme drought.
True to climate change forecasts, the storms are warmer, deluges will occur later in the season, and snow levels will be higher. But here is why 2018 is truly a March miracle.
Since 1973 Three Rivers has recorded only three years when the area received more precipitation in March than in 2018.
1991— 13.09 inches in March; 16.57 for the season.
1975— 7.03 inches in March; 20.15 for the season.
1982— 7.50 inches in March; 26.18 for the season.
2018— 6.50 inches in March, (so far); season total yet to be determined.
And how about 1983? That year, 6.37 inches of rain was recorded in March, and 44 inches for the season. That 44 inches represents the most rainfall recorded in Three Rivers at 1,000 feet elevation since the 1960s.
That fourth-place March (2018) in the last 50 years could easily move into second place by the end of the month.