Weather watch: Drought conditions and fire danger persist statewide

Weather watch: Drought conditions

Fall colors in autumnal splendor on the South Fork near the entrance to Sequoia National Park. submitted photo

Though Kaweah Country conditions have improved considerably since the drenching of November 8, most of California is yet to experience a true season-ending rain event.  Locally, that November 8 rainfall of .70 inches at 1,000 feet, dampened the local wildfire season and cooler temperatures since have convinced nearly everyone there was indeed a change of seasons. Weather watch: Drought conditions

But for parts of Northern California and all of Southern California, no end of fire season is in sight. Fire danger in those parts of California remain extreme and there are still fires burning in the Sequoia National Park wilderness. Indeed, the fall of 2020 is shaping up to be among the top-5 driest on record across much of California. 

Evidence of the stubborn fire season was dramatic and tragic last week when a series of fires along Highway 395, on the eastside of the Sierra, whipped by downslope winds consumed the entire town of Walker in a few hours. While eastside fires are not unheard of this time of year, fast moving destructive blazes are highly unusual there and serve as yet another reminder of the deepening drought and record warmth experienced in 2020. Weather watch: Drought conditions

The long range dry forecast will persist for much of California until at least the end of 2020. Given the moderately strong La Niña event occurring in the tropical Pacific, that means cool and dry conditions could persist well into 2021. The odds that a season rainfall total 2020-2021 will be again below average looks pretty high and increases with each passing dry week.

Some local statistics for comparison: The first significant rainfall of the 2020-2021 season occurred on November 8 and measured .70 inches in Three Rivers. One year ago, that first significant rainfall occurred on November 27 and measured 1.05 inches. The season total in Three Rivers for 2019-2020 was 13.80 inches nearly seven inches below the 30-year norm. Most forecasters are predicting a second consecutive below normal season and a deepening drought.  Weather watch: Drought conditions

Weather watch: Drought conditions
One of several charred hillsides, in the aftermath of the Castle Fire, visible from the Ladybug Trail near Squaw Creek, in the South Fork, Sequoia National Park. submitted photo

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