As January draws to a close, the effects of the month's rains and snows are clear in these charts of the water levels for the 3 massive reservoirs in far northern California: Lake Shasta, Trinity Lake, and Lake Oroville.
Check out those dramatic changes in just the last 2 weeks! Trinity Lake is now 25% full, Lake Oroville is now 40% full, and Lake Shasta is now 50% full!
And it's not just been rain; the Snow Pack report is solid, too. The Northern Sierra snowpack, which actually the most important, is at 124% of normal; the Central Sierra snowpack is also above normal, and even the Southern Sierra snowpack is close, at 93% of normal.
And it's raining again, at least in Southern California: El Nino-driven storm to blast California, southwestern US with rain and snow.
Interestingly, although the headline of that story would deny it, most weather observers seem to agree that this winter has NOT been the "El Nino" year that many expected: Comparing El Nino 1997-1998 vs. 2015-2016 to date for Los Angeles
We all know that this year's El Nino has been compared to 1997-1998 in strength and as a benchmark of what it may bring. I have documented as late as last week that so far this rainfall season has not been typical of strong El Nino years.
This winter was supposed to be dry in the Northwest, but precipitation amounts are 30 to 60 percent above normal. It was to be a wet year in Southern California, but rainfall so far have been 30 to 40 percent below normal.
30 to 40 percent below normal, of course, is a LONG way from the 85 percent below normal that we saw the last two years. But, it's certainly not been a record-breaking wet year, so far.
Clark also writes: Possible reason for unusual rain pattern this El Nino
Easy to spot are the very warm waters around the equatorial Eastern Pacific with our current strong El Nino. There is also a core of warmer-than-normal water from Asia to the West Coast of the U.S. between 20 and 40 north. In between, however, is a core of cooler-than-normal water running much of the Pacific between 10 and 20 north.
Well, as the great Yogi Berra noted, "predictions are hard, especially about the future."
But, for now at least, the creeks are rising, and the snow is falling.
Which is good news.