Weather in the Foothills

“Water is the moving force of all nature.”

~ Leonardo Di Vinci

Is California Free from Drought After Wet Winter?

As the wet winter flows into spring, the 2018-19 rainy season is expected to continue changing California’s drought map. Yes, the prolonged rain flooded many areas that not so long ago were left barren from the wildland fires. While wreaking havoc statewide these rains also replenished vital water supplies. And this year’s abundant snowpack in the Sierra should bump the water levels even higher. The old proverb of every cloud having a silver lining certainly applies here with usable water being the so-called “silver lining.”

A silver lining or outline around a cloud indicates a light source behind it. If clouds float in front of the sun, it can look like they have a silver lining around them. That is the center of the cloud looks darker while its edges are brighter. At some point, people must have observed this and, with time, it became a phrase. In fact, in the not so recent past when cloudy weather prevailed over England and Ireland (which is often the case), it was considered the foretelling of a long, cold and rainy season. Folks found these times not only troublesome but also depressing. However, there was always a silver lining of a cloud when the sky began to clear. This shows the phrase was perhaps coined from this shining appearance – a true symbol of an end to troubles. As a metaphorical expression, it implies that every thing and situation has some good or positive aspects. In this case, water – be it a full cup or a deluge.

The sun cannot take full credit to casting its light. The first known use of the phrase, in writing, was written simply as “silver lining,” reportedly from John Milton in a book called “Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle,” 1634. He wrote: “Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud Turn forth her silver lining on the night?” Sable is the color black and a silver lining during the night hour could only be from moonlight.

Now for the silver lining. As of March 8, the Sierra snowpack is at 161%. Even better, much of the west is near or above average. Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows over half of the west was experiencing drought conditions on Jan. 15 but by March 5 barely 25% of the region was still in drought. In the Southwest U.S. drought is part of the landscape and not all clouds have silver linings.

This means that you should never feel hopeless because difficult times always lead to better days. Difficult times are like dark clouds that pass overhead and block the sun

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