March has been a very interesting time in California’s history for snow surveys. As many of you may be aware of, and are living through, the amount of rain and snow in the Sierra Nevada is incredible. The atmospheric river is so profound that the State was not able to survey many of the sites within the Kern River drainage. However, what was surveyed gives everyone a light snapshot of just how much snow is on the mountain. As of March 1, there is 183% of normal snow. That is incredible and really needed for years of drought! This is not the whole story though.
The other part of this story is the atmospheric river. It has brought warmer rains on a heavy snow pack. When warm rain mixes with snow, you get a “rain on snow” event that can cause major damage and flooding. Simply do a search for “flooding California 2023” and you will see what the news and folks are talking about who live there. One example can be found at CNN. This is not a new phenomenon for California though. If you want to know more, I encourage you to read more about hundreds of years of drought and flooding in the golden state via John Austin’s book “Floods and Droughts in the Tulare Lake Basin.” It is a FREE PDF or if you want to support his work, you can buy it from Amazon (small percentage of sale goes back to GTW). Anyway, April is going to be an interesting survey month.
The warmer rain on snow events happening in March have filled up a lot of reservoirs. However, how much snow is left in the mountains as a result? We won’t know for a few more days but it will be interesting to see what happens. Stay tuned!