By Tom Sater and Monica Garrett, CNN
It’s been a soggy week for the Pacific Northwest, as another powerful atmospheric river unloaded fierce winds, crashing high waves and record rainfall in areas such as Seattle, Washington.
Now, another storm system is pushing through, and this time, promising to bring much needed precipitation to California. However, experts at the National Weather Service don’t believe this will be enough to end the drought.
“It’s basically the remnants of the atmospheric river that affected the Pacific Northwest,” meteorologist Drew Peterson with the San Francisco National Weather Service told CNN weather.
Unfortunately, the forecast does not call for drought busting totals, but residents will take anything at this point.
“Looking back a couple of days, we were looking at ¼” to an inch of rain, but now we’re noticing a shift in the storm system, tilting off shore and pivoting further to the southwest,” Peterson said.
Peterson said that now the storm system may only drop a hundredth, to a third of an inch of rain. Not what California was hoping for.
Periods of showers and mountain snow are expected Friday into Saturday. Again, rainfall is not expected to amount too much, but the mountain snow will accumulate.
“Main impacts with this system will be moderate to locally heavy snow that could bring hazardous mountain and upper foothill travel as well as gusty west to northwest winds,” the NWS in Sacramento said.
Winter weather advisories are posted for much of the Sierra Mountains, with 4 to 8 inches of snow forecast above 4,000 feet of elevation.
As of Tuesday, the latest statewide snow melt forecast was only about 66% of the average — not enough to fill up California reservoirs. Any snow is welcome, but it will take some significant storms to actually improve the situation.
This is supposed to be California’s ‘wet season’
Mother Nature has turned off the spigot at the time of the year that is typically the wettest for states out West.
Many areas from San Francisco to Sacramento, down to Los Angles, have experienced their driest start to the year on record, receiving only 50 – 65% of their normal seasonal rainfall.
Sacramento even broke a record for the number of consecutive days — 55 days — without rainfall during the wet season (November – February).
The news isn’t good on several fronts. The latest Drought Monitor numbers, released Thursday, show that severe and extreme drought doubled from just a week ago, now covering 13% of California.
After gangbuster rainfall in the months of October, November and December, hopes have now been dashed of seeing regional reservoirs back up to some sense of normalcy.
This is a problem across several Western states.
Rain showers and mountain snow will spread through the Great Basin into the southern and central Rockies over the weekend.
The energy headed out of the mountain West will eventually set the stage for a rare severe weather (springlike) event for portions of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
As the spring severe weather season gets an early jump and winter looks to be coming to an end, the chances for more precipitation in California are not good and the coming dry season looks bleak.
Overall, the current precipitation is just a drop in the bucket in terms of what is truly needed. There is no doubt that the Western US is headed for a third year of intense drought unless a miracle occurs and weather patterns change.
“At this point we’re just looking upstream to get any type of rainfall to abate what will be another above average fire season,” Peterson reiterates.
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