El Nino puts a dent in Western drought

- The constant parade of storms coming ashore over California has resulted in come crazy weather events over the past several months.

Heavy snows in the mountains and flooding rains in the valleys have lit up television news feeds this winter season. The culprit for this meteorological detour is El Nino. The warming of the Equatorial Pacific has aimed the jet stream, the highway for storms, at the west coast of the United States, and California is soaking up as much as it can.

THE DROUGHT LESSENS

The drought is not gone but considering where it used to be, its getting much better. Take a look at the progress since before the rains began last fall to where we are now in mid-winter 2016.

The drought monitor comparison above shows great improvement in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies and the Desert southwest. However, you have to look a little more closely in California to see the changes, but they are there. There is a lot less red showing up on that map.

THE SNOWPACK

Lakes and reservoirs are filling up and heavy snows are bulking up the snowpack for future use. Folsom reservoir has risen nearly 30 feet in the past month. The snowpack is where the real gold is stored for future use. The Sierra Nevada range, that has seen a nearly 500 year low, is now over 100% so far this season when it comes to their snowpack. 

 

El Nino may have given us a break from winter but in the American West, it has been life altering by putting a dent in the historical dry spell that has plagued the region.

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