Extreme Weather

Storm brings good news for L.A.’s water supply

Storm brings good news for L.A.'s water supply

The cold weekend storm that brought a variety of weather to Southern California– including a tornado warning (but no actual tornado) for a brief time near Santa Barbara—has left a welcome legacy for the upcoming summer months—water reserve.

A tornado warning was issued for a brief time—meaning doppler weather radar had detected an area of rotation in the skies near Santa Barbara early Saturday evening, Feb. 19. No actual tornado was observed, thus the warning was canceled some 20 minutes later. For the sake of clarity…a warning, for example tornado, flash flood, severe thunderstorm, high wind warning, etc. is issued by the National Weather Service when one or more of these phenomena or conditions is either imminent, observed, or in progress. Similarly, a “watch” is issued when conditions are favorable for one or more of these conditions to develop, or occur. A “watch is usually issued in advance of, or preceding a warning, and is a notice to be prepared for conditions to advance to warning status.

But the real silver lining in the clouds with the weekend storm is snow…not just in our local mountains, but in huge amounts to California’s high Sierra—the starting point for much of Los Angeles’ and Southern California’s water supply.

The entire range from the Northern Sierra to the southernmost slopes…has received record snowfall, measured in tens of feet, with early estimates of snowpack depths running well over 100 % normal, and more will likely fall in the remaining months of winter into spring. This doesn’t mean we can use water now with carefree abandon—to the contrary, many of the state’s reservoirs and reserve supplies are still in a state of shortage. The drought that preceded this and December’s abundant precipitation was long-standing, and while significant improvement is noted…it could be accurately stated that we are only partly “out of the woods.”

But…things are indeed looking good. The coming week should see improving weather with dryer conditions, until next weekend, when current forecast models hint at another chance of rain…and much to our benefit, more Sierra snows.

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