A small lenticular cloud rests on the summit of Mount Shasta. 16Jan2017
Here in Mount Shasta we have had a nice lull in the winter weather. Some sunny skies and slightly warmer temperatures have given us a respite from plowing snow and a more housebound life. The intensity of the storms working through Northern California has been pretty hard. The precipitation has come as both snow and rain, meaning that a healthy snowpack is already in place while the rain is bringing immediate relief to the thirsty land.
Reservoirs around the northern part of the state have been filled and are releasing a lot of water, making room for more storm runoff and also the spring thaw, which is still a few months away. As I write this, Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California, is only 30 feet from its crest. Its level has been dropping since so much water has been released. In Redding, the Sacramento River is running wide, deep and swift, a ferociously large watery snake winding through the city. I can only imagine how big it is by the time it hits the delta.
The other day I saw a report on the state of the drought in Northern California. Who knows what lies in the future but between the decent winter last year and the heavy precipitation we have had now, the drought is, for all intents, over for the time being. It now comes down to managing the water for drier times that no doubt lie ahead. Of course, after reading Cadillac Desert, one is not filled with a lot of optimism on that account. Nonetheless, the report I was looking at should give some hope, especially via the comparison of NASA’s satellite images of Northern California (which can be seen here).
Click to enlarge:
Note how much greener the state is and the vast snowpack that is evident in the image from a couple of days ago. In the older image the North Coast Range, especially the higher regions like the Yolla Bollys and the Snow Mountain area are almost devoid of snow. This year, there is a vast area with a deep snowpack. The Sierra Nevada, Klamaths, and the Cascades all have substantially larger snowpacks that extends down to much lower elevations. The spring thaw will be something to behold. Also note the Sacramento River overflowing its banks between Sacramento and San Francisco Bay. Large swaths of the Delta have been inundated. Interestingly, the coastal waters are much foggier as the discharge of the rivers into the Pacific Ocean. The outlets of the Russian, Eel and Klamath Rivers are all easily discernible. The vast amounts of sediment carried by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, the largest river system in California, are impounded in San Pablo Bay, and do not reach the open sea through the Golden Gate.
Of course, the winter is far from over. Only halfway through January, there is still at least two months of wintry ahead of us. Even now, a new storm, possibly more powerful than the last system, is brewing. If the weather report is accurate, there is the possibility of three or so more feet to fall at lower levels. I am not sure if anyone wants me to blog through that storm too (I swear I am not turning this into a weather blog. It’s winter and there is not as much to write about!).
So, with more snow on the way, I hope everyone is enjoying the winter weather and the relief from the drought that it is bringing. Living up here in Mount Shasta, it is a lot of work, clearing all the white stuff that falls around the house. Nonetheless, it is a provision for our thirsty world. Stay blessed out there and I will see y’all on the other side of the storm!
The last ten days have been awesome down here in the Eastern Sierra! My only gripe is that despite all the moisture, it just would not get cold here this year. Even as high as 6,500 feet, most of last week’s precip fell as rain, with just a couple dustings of snow. It’s a lot chillier now, though, so I’m optimistic that we’ll see more valley snow out of this week’s systems. Meanwhile, the Sierra and Whites are looking great up high, at last!
I am glad to hear that things are looking better. I am envious of your proximity to the Eastern Sierra…
Should be an interesting year for PCT hikers, no?
It is shaping up to be. The passes in the High Sierra are probably going to be snowy until July or later this year. That always makes it fun, especially Forester Pass, seeing as how it is over 13,150. Last year was the perfect year to make the trip. Solid snowpack, lots of water but not so deep that everything was a mess going over the high passes.
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