Weather in the Foothills

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

~ John Muir, Scottish-
American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist

The 2019-20 rain season was a little delayed in getting started. But between Thanksgiving and Christmas we gathered almost the full rain total of 7.80 inches. Not too bad, except January proved to be as dry as a bone. Come February a good storm pattern seemed to be on track again. Well, Mother Nature is messing with us and it’s not funny.

Every Tuesday in the U.S. Drought Monitor, NOAA summarizes current statistics pertaining to precipitation. As of this week, the snowpack in the southern Sierra stands at 60% of normal for this date. For a brief time in mid-December we were considered drought free; of concern is that appears to no longer be the case. Less than half of normal precipitation has fallen from Nevada westward across most of California. The following phenomenon is interestingly impacted by drought.

Horsetail Fall is a small waterfall located on the eastern edge of the El Capitan mountain in the Yosemite Valley. Every year, from mid to late February when the fall is flowing, it takes on a spectacular and bright orange glow at sunset. The striking phenomenon gives the impression that lava is flowing down the mountain. Clear skies and a good snowpack that provides water to flow are key factors. This year the waterfall is dry.

Late tomorrow night there is a chance of light showers for areas south of Point Conception. This unimpressive storm system – as of now – is predicted to hang around on Saturday. Beyond this, the days will be warm and dry. So here we are “high and dry” in the foothills with an age-old fear of falling back into an all-too-familiar period of drought. Some may attribute it to global warming, while others – like myself – take it to be just another day in the semi-desert climatic Southwest. 


Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service.
Reach her at