California is drowning in snow


Although it’s officially spring, winter still doesn’t let up, and in rather unexpected places in the northern hemisphere. The U.S. state of California has just experienced its snowiest winter in 14 years, and there are no signs that it is about to end. This is another of the weather extremes that have hit the United States over the past six months. The reason is believed to be climate change.

Record snow cover in Sierra Nevada

California was hit by more snowstorms this past weekend, causing a significant increase in the thickness of the snow cover in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The rest of the state has experienced rainfall. The wet streak has lasted since mid-January and is associated with the influx of atmospheric rivers, or long bands of water vapor rising in the upper layers of the atmosphere and condensing in an intense manner.

At the beginning of the year, there was less snow than usual in the California mountains, and there was no indication of a record. The following weeks, however, brought lashing precipitation that turned into snow high in the mountains. Last Friday, March 22, Newsweek reported that the average snow cover had reached nearly 100 percent.

As predicted, another wave of precipitation came this past weekend, and according to the California Department of Water Resources, on March 25 in the northern Sierra Nevada the snow cover already measured 82 cm, or 115 percent. medium. The central part of the mountains showed 68 cm of snow, or 99 percent. average, while in the southern part 91 percent. medium (50 cm). Statewide averages indicate that snow cover is currently 102 percent. average observed annually for that date.

Winter like few

In February this year. The vast majority of the United States has experienced unusually intense meteorological phenomena. Large temperature differences, thunderstorms and the risk of tornadoes occurred in the Midwest, while lashing rains and heavy snowfall accompanied by gusty winds swept over the Northwest. California was already the victim of a three-day storm in the first week of February, which in the San Gabriel Mountains brought nearly 40 cm of rainfall in places. Hundreds of mudslides and surging water levels in rivers have been reported, with heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Winds exceeded 90 km/h in many places, with gusts up to 160 km/h around San Francisco Bay. As many as 1.4 million residents have been left without electricity.

In early March, winter took its toll again, and California was mercilessly snowed in as a result of several days of storms. According to CNN, the hardest-hit areas of the Sierra Nevada experienced hurricane force winds, with gusts of up to 273km/h, and accumulations of snow drifts as high as 3m. Interstate Highway 80 was closed for two days along a stretch of more than 70 kilometers. Around South Lake Tahoe, where 90-150 cm of snow fell, an avalanche slid onto Highway 50 and immobilized some cars for several hours.

Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada has been so heavy that many ski lifts and slopes have been closed for safety reasons. It took several days for resort staff to dig through the snowdrifts that made it impossible to leave the residential facilities. Unfortunately, rescue teams were powerless against gusty winds blowing snow to other locations and creating even bigger snowdrifts.

California enjoys the snow

The current weather forecast for mountainous parts of California predicts that a further 2.5-7.5 centimeters of fresh snow could fall as early as this Wednesday, with more white powder to come in the following days until Sunday. So it’s possible that more California spring records will be set under the snow.

And while most extreme weather events carry drastic socioeconomic consequences, California nevertheless has reason to rejoice. Between 2020 and 2022, the hot state over the Pacific experienced an exceptional drought that led to a dangerous drop in water levels in reservoirs. Meteorologists have no doubt that the dry, hot summer will once again give residents a hard time, and above-average snow cover is the best remedy for the crisis. Indeed, as much as1/3 of California’s water resources come from snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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