New data show that California will be starting the summer dry season with a snowpack around the lowest levels since recordkeeping began nearly a century ago. The data were collected by hand over the last week as part of California’s annual snowpack survey across the vast Sierra Nevada, an update to the automated numbers released a week ago.
Of course, record-keeping, in some sense, began quite a bit more than "nearly a century ago".
From William Brewer, via Tom Hilton's marvelous web-zine, May 30, 1864: East of Pacheco Pass
All around the house it looks desolate. Where there were green pastures when we camped here two years ago, now all is dry, dusty, bare ground. Three hundred cattle have died by the miserable water hole back of the house, where we get water to drink, and their stench pollutes the air.
Drought in California is nothing new, as Brewer's journals document.
But weather is a funny thing, as Cliff Mass notes:
Here is a notice released by the Seattle National Weather Service office:
.CLIMATE...THE RAINFALL TOTAL AT SEATTLE-TACOMA AIRPORT WAS 0.22 INCHES SUNDAY. THIS MAKES THE RAINFALL TOTAL SINCE FEBRUARY 1ST 22.87 INCHES. THIS BREAKS THE RECORD FOR THE WETTEST FEBRUARY THROUGH JULY IN SEATTLE. THE OLD RECORD WAS 22.81 INCHES SET IN 1972. FELTON/MCDONNAL
You knew this was a wet late winter/spring, particularly mid-February through mid-March. But to beat the Feb-July record in MAY is really notable.
In two months, I'm hoping to take my annual backpacking trip. We're planning to visit a lake at 10,800 feet.
I've given up on hoping that there will be snow at that altitude, though in normal years a late July visit might find 3 feet of snow there.
I am, still, hoping that there will be a lake there.
And that there won't be a repeat of last year's fire season.
So I'm going through my backpacking gear, getting it in order, being optimistic.