Wednesday, January 25, 2017

California Clobbered Again, But Will Get At Least Brief Break

Flash flood destruction in Gaviota, California last Friday
While we were distracted by tornadoes in the South and a gusty, wet, icy nor'easter blasting the Northeast over the past couple of days, California got pounded again by another tremendous storm off the Pacific Ocean.

Unlike in the past few storms, southern California got particularly blasted, with floods, mudslides and other havoc in the Los Angeles basin and other areas of the Golden State's southern half.

At least four deaths have been blamed on the latest California storm.

The Los Angeles Times reported that both the 110 Freeway in Carson and the 710 Freeway in Long Beach shut down due to flooding. The Long Beach area was perhaps the hardest hit, with a record one day rainfall of 3.87 inches reported there Sunday.

Brett Albright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Servcie in San Diego, told the Los Angeles Times that the latest storm poured four inches of rain down on some places.

"Today was very intense," Albright said of Sunday's California weather. "It's not a normal event. It was definitely a culmination of perfect circumstances: We had a very intense atmospheric river witha lot of moisture and an area of lift in the atmosphere right over coastal Los Angelese and Orange counties. It forced all that moisture out. "

This kind of weather closed Malibu roads because of rock slides and had some houses and apartments teetering on the edge of mudslides. On Monterey Bay, there was a new record high wave height during the storm, just over 34 feet.

In the mountains, feet upon feet of snow piled up. Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada this winter has been the deepest in 20 years, according to some reports.

While the drought is not over in California, it is slowly getting eroded away by this winter's parade of storms.

Los Angeles has had double its normal amount of precipitation this winter. And, about 42 percent of California is no longer in drought. Ninety-seven percent of the state was in drought this time last year.

Also, just two percent of California remains in "Exceptional Drought" category, the severest level. At this time last year, 43 percent of the Golden State was in exceptional drought.

Of course the water works could shut off abruptly in California, and the drought could re-intensify. It's too soon to say whether that will happen.

What will happen is California will get a break from the wet, stormy, snowy, destructive weather for at least the next few days.

Very little, if any rain and snow is expected in most of California for the next seven days or so. However, there are hints that more storms could start hitting at least central and northern California again in early February.

That last storm that hit California ended up in the central Plains states yesterday and last night, dumping more than a foot of snow in places like the southern half of South Dakota. The big winner for snow so far, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is right where most of my in-laws live in Yankton, South Dakota at 16 inches.

That storm is weakening as it heads east, so for us here in Vermont, we can expect frequent bouts of light snow over the next several days. It could even mix with rain the valleys Thursday before colder air moves in.

Only a few inches of snow at most are expected in Vermont's valleys in the next few days, but it should pile up fairly nicely in the mountains, with six inches to a foot on some ski areas over the next five days.

And the western New York Great Lakes snow blasts should also get really cranking in the next few days.

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