“Raindrops blossom brilliantly in the rainbow, and change to flowers in the sod.
But snow comes in full flower direct from the dark, frozen sky.” ~ John Muir
Rain on the West Coast and record snowfall on the East Coast are the main weather stories of the week. The unabridged version for California would include the snow in the northern mountains and the discrepancy of rainfall amounts throughout the state. From the Central Coast northward and across much of the state, storms have arrived one after another. Only bringing rain every day or two, fortunately damage has been minimal. Southern California’s lack of rainfall is disappointing, dousing hopes of more to come … at least for the time being (until Saturday and Sunday). Drought-wise consider it a blessing in disguise as much of our rainwater heads to the beach and then out-to-sea.
As the precipitation – both rain and snow – stayed to the north, near empty reservoirs began to fill and snow packs deepened to above average. State and federal water projects captured rain and snow at these locations. Mother Nature’s precious bounty – water – is then delivered statewide as needed. As said by Alan Haynes, hydrologist for the NWS in Sacramento, “If storms continue … we have a good shot at filling the reservoirs and building the snowpack.” A shift in the storm action is coming; El Niño-generated storms once again are directed into Southern California.
Under clear skies, our 2015-16 rainfall total stands at 10.63. With a Kleenex box by my side, I watched the blizzard hit New York and a frigid mixture of seawater and ice chunks flood New Jersey. Also heavy snows left vacationers stranded at a Southern Korean Island resort. Brrrr … Just watching made me shiver. But I also began to ponder … how is fluffy snow measured? Do you smash it down flat, let it melt or just count the flakes?
Measuring snowfall, it seems, is no easy task. The NWS claims snowfall and its depth, plus its water equivalent, are among the most difficult of weather elements to calculate. Living in La Crescenta, I found the following information to be interesting, even if never used.
Snowfall (ice, sleet, pellets or flake) accumulation needs a flat wood surface. Ideally the measurement is taken after each snowfall event ends and before the next one begins – day or night! The surface is then cleared, awaiting the next snowflake to fall.
If the Jan. 27 NWS L.A./ Oxnard forecast proves accurate, an El Niño-driven storm system will arrive late Saturday or Sunday. Heavy rain, mountain snow, a high surf warning and below average temperatures are expected to impact our region. Next week continues cool with possible precipitation … only in drop form not flake!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.