By Sue KILPATRICK
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
The gradual return of clear skies this week, compared to our previous rainy ones, is a reminder of what a Crescenta Valley winter is normally- a lot of sunshine and placid blue skies, with a few wet storms in between. Early in the season many climatologists had predicted a La Nina condition for Southern California, which usually causes drier-than-normal weather. Well, here we are only 3 weeks into winter with a grand total of exactly 20 inches of rain! What happened?
Meteorologists like to joke and the author Robert Heinlein once wrote, “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.” This is definitely the case, this year. The amount of rain we have received in the past weeks has set multiple records. Los Angeles (including us), collected 1/3 of its annual precipitation, in just one week, the one prior to Christmas. Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had predicted a “wet La Nina”. This was proven to be true as December was the wettest one since 1889. Farther north and at the higher elevations in California the snowpack is double its average depth. Statewide this has been the third wettest in history. Kelly Redmond of the National Weather Service about sums it up in saying, “It’s been just a tremendously interesting winter so far. I feel like we have gone through a whole winter already.” So, what next?
Our season so far, certainly has proven that weather is not an exact science. Many variables go into making a prediction- temperature, wind speed and direction, locations of high and low pressure, and the current path of the jet stream. A slight change, in just one of these, can drastically change weather conditions in a very short time. This may be the case this year, as extreme high pressure at the north and south poles, has pushed much colder and wetter (than normal) air masses into North America and Europe. According to data this pattern is changing back to a more normal one of less rain and warmer temperatures. Can this still be considered a La Nina? Yes, a wet start to winter and a dry second half is not unusual for this pattern.
The weather, for now and into next week, will define the reason we live in The Foothills- PERFECT! Daytimes with blue skies, breezy, and temperatures may reach 80 degrees and clear , cool nights in the 40s is what we can expect. I will be watching and waiting, as I’m sure many of us will, with an umbrella close by to see what unfolds (no pun intended) in the upcoming weeks.
Sue Kilpatrick is a longtime CV resident and amateur weather watcher. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.