Weather Update

My aunt Chris just forwarded an email message from a friend about the unique weather situation that’s shaping up in California. Here’s a clip from that message:

Currently, the strong El Niño is reaching its peak in the Eastern Pacific, and now finally appears to be exerting an influence on our weather. … a 200+ kt jet is barreling towards us. Multiple large and powerful storm systems are expected to slam into CA from the west and northwest over the coming two weeks, all riding this extremely powerful jet stream … Very heavy rainfall and strong to potentially very strong winds will impact the lower elevations beginning late Sunday (Jan. 17) and continuing through at least the following Sunday. … Above 3000-4000 feet, precipitation will be all snow, and since temperatures will be unusually cold for a precipitation event of this magnitude, a truly prodigious amount of snowfall is likely to occur in the mountains, possibly measured in the tens of feet in the Sierra after it’s all said and done. … Between this Sunday and the following Sunday, I expect categorical statewide rainfall totals in excess of 3-4 inches. That is likely to be a huge underestimate for most areas. Much of NorCal is likely to see 5-10 inches in the lowlands, with 10-20 inches in orographically-favored areas. Most of SoCal will see 3-6 inches at lower elevations, with perhaps triple that amount in favored areas.

California is experiencing a drought, so this rain is much needed. It’s rough, though, to get it all at once. These rain totals may seem unremarkable to our midwestern friends, but it’s important to remember that California only gets around 17 inches of rainfall on average each year. (Compared to an average of 30+ inches per year in Illinois.)

Monday January 18, 2010 — Mark — nature news


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