Is California In for Another Drought Year? | I Have The Fear…

Miles Clark | | WeatherWeather
Basically no snow forecast in California for the next 10-days according to the GEM model. image:, today
  • Squaw Valley, CA’s upper mountain has only seen 10″ of snow in December 2017
  • Mammoth Mountain, CA has only seen 4″ of snow in December 2017
  • California’s statewide snowpack is at only 27% of average to date
  • There is currently no snow forecast in the foreseeable future
  • High pressure has dominated the weather of California pushing nearly all storms well to our north since December began and that pattern is forecast to continue for at least another 10-days, likely longer…


Lake Tahoe, CA Snowpack Currently at 3rd Lowest in Nearly 40 Years

Squaw Valley, CA today. image: points north heli/kevin quinn

This is all very reminiscent of the historic 4-year drought that California endured from 2012-2015. 

These were very rough years for California skiers and riders and unfortunately this year is lining up the same as those did.

Percent of average precip in CA since the end of Sept is WAY below average. image: noaa, dec. 23rd, 2017

Yes, I know that it’s still early.

Yes, I know that this could all change.

But, how could this not freak me out?  I’ve seen this before, and I bailed.  I lived in Japan and Alaska for all 4 seasons of the 2012-2015 drought.

I’ve already bailed on Tahoe this season as well.  I shot up to British Columbia and was entranced by the seen up at Kicking Horse and Revelstoke.

CA’s snowpack at 27% of average. image: nrcs, today

Yes, I am going to stay positive.

Anything can happen and just one atmospheric river could come along and dump 6′ of snow on California and we’d be back in business.

My big fear is this big high pressure that is sitting on us.  It’s very resilient.  It gets pushed out a bit now and again, then comes right back in.  This is what it did back in the drought years of 2012-2015.

Mammoth Mountain, CA’s mid-mountain today looking good. image: mammoth

Regardless, I’m going to stay positive, pray for snow, keep my fingers crossed, and be poised and ready to rocket back to California as soon as the snow begins to fly.

The good news is that California ski resorts are still skiing remarkably well up high despite it not having snowed much this month.

“Sierra snow pack running much below normal due to extended dry pattern.” – NOAA, yesterday


.LONG TERM...Next week...
Trends over the last 24 hours in the operational runs are to
delay any sort of transition out of the ridging. The operational
EC is similar to the GFS and FV3 now showing the systems moving
into the ridge weakening with possibly some precip for next
weekend. However, the ensembles continue to show a high degree of
uncertainty indicating a pattern in transition and thus the
forecast confidence for next week remains very low. The ensembles
all have the trough splitting as it comes in, with the southern
stream portion remaining somewhat vigorous as it moves in. The
previous shift went to more ridging and no precip, and to avoid
flip flopping, I left that alone. It is well within the realm of
possibility, but so is light precip from Wednesday onward. In
fact, the 06Z GFS is coming in wet now at the time frame.

The pattern transition looks to continue beyond that, but it will
continue to be slow. The influence of the trough in the West
Central Pacific may play a role in breaking down or retrograding
the ridge for a period of time in mid-January. It may turn
wetter, but at this point, even a weaker ridge has kept the storms
into the Pacific Northwest with NE California and W Nevada
remaining rather dry.
CA drought status right now. image: nrcs, today
6-9″ of snow at Squaw this December. image: squaw, today
Diamond Peak ski resort in Lake Tahoe, NV today. image: points north heli/kevin quinn
Heavenly ski resort, CA. image: points north heli/kevin quinn

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4 thoughts on “Is California In for Another Drought Year? | I Have The Fear…

  1. I though you’d be up in the Tetons by now????? Snow has been good here. Did you bail on the Jackson Hole plan? Or did the Canadians take you captive?

  2. 15/16 was an amazing winter… we only saw average (95-105%) here but it snowed pretty much every 3-5 days from halloween to easter
    I personally rose way more pow days that season than 16-17 due to safer backcountry conditions and less avy control in bounds

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