December heat in the east, snow finally in the west

- The U.S. continues to be a tale of two stories.  For the last couple of years, it's been a wicked cold east and a scorching hot west.  Well this year, it is the exact opposite.  While the west coast isn’t breaking any records for cold, they are finally getting the snow and moisture that is needed to put a dent in the drought.  They have a long way to go, but this is certainly an excellent start.  As for the east, it’s been record heat. More than 2000 daily record warm temperatures across the eastern half of the country already this month and we are only half way through.  Check out just how much above the average much of the country is…

Minnesota has been one of the states furthest from the average with temperatures average 15 to 25 degrees warmer than normal for the first half of December.  Everyone else east of the Rockies is at least a few degrees above the norm.  While the west hasn’t be particularly cold, it has been cold enough for plenty of the precipitation falling to be in the form of snow… finally.  While rain is beneficial, the west coast needs snowpack more than anything.  This snowpack eventually piles up and then slowly melts during the following spring and summer.  This is the one thing that can end the western drought.   Check out the current snowpack across the west…

Really good looking snowpack this early in the season with the Cascades, Tetons, and parts of Idaho sitting with the most… over 10 feet in some cases.  But even California is sitting near normal with 3 to 6 feet falling in just the last 10 days.  Ultimately, it’s not the snow depth that defines how beneficial the moisture is, it’s how much water is in that snow.  Check out the current water content…

This looks a lot less impressive, but is still at or above average in many spots.  Remember, generally speaking, 10 inches of snow equals 1 inch of precipitation.  But the Rockies typically get dryer snow where the ratio can be more like 25 inches of snow for 1 inch of liquid precipitation.  The same can be said for much of the west currently, but even with that terrible ratio, parts of California have 5 to 10 inches of liquid water already stored in the snowpack.  That’s REALLY GOOD!  Hopefully, for the western drought’s sake, this trend continues.  As for the east… doesn’t look like the warmth is gonna let up anytime soon and could easily be the warmest December on record for many areas east of the Mississippi.


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