Last year, at around this time, the snowpack in the Sierras was about 22% of normal. Last week, when California measured the snowpack, it showed significant improvement: 91% of normal statewide and 99% of normal in the Sierras.
That’s good news, but over the past four years of drought, we’ve seen promising wet seasons begin well in December and/or January only to peter out subsequently. Is this going to be another year when El Niño takes away with one hand what he has so far given with the other? Following a wet January, February has been quite dry, and temperatures have been high, as well. So, even at elevation, the snow that has fallen thus far is also melting earlier than it should. Temperatures for the rest of this week in Lee Vining, CA, for example, range from 58° to 60° under mostly sunny skies. That’s a good 15° above historical high temperatures for February.
So California continues to hold its collective breath regarding the cessation of the drought.
I created the photo of El Capitan, above, one cold (but dry) afternoon at the Tunnel View overlook just a few years ago. The afternoon had been mostly overcast, and for the third time that afternoon, I had mentally assured myself that I would give it just fifteen more minutes before calling it a day. Then, moments after the first glimmer of light appeared on El Cap, the clouds began to light up, as well. Those fifteen minutes flew by after that.