Chris Smallcomb from the National Weather Service presented his winter seasonal precipitation outlook last Tuesday to the Mono County Board of Supervisors. The bottom line for the next two weeks: no massive storms.
“We are looking at a pattern that blocks those atmospheric rivers but opens the door for cold, inside slider storms,” said Smallcomb. Such storms drop a few inches, then leave.
Instead of snow, we’ll get cold. Notorious cold spots like Bridgeport and Bodie could see temperatures well into the negative twenties and thirties (Fahrenheit).
Headed into February, Smallcomb expects that we will return to a busier storm pattern. That’s not necessarily a “screaming signal for large storms,” says Smallcomb.
Over the next three months, any scenario’s on the table. Smallcomb showed a graphic that pictured the percentage chance for above normal precipitation, near normal precipitation, and below normal precipitation for the region. Each was 33%.
Headed out of April and into spring and early summer, Smallcomb anticipates above normal temperatures. “So, it looks like an earlier than normal snow melt,” he said.
However, the snowpack is strong and healthy. Exceedingly so. “If we stay active [storm-wise] into March, then 2023 will give 2017 a run for its money,” said Smallcomb. The Walker River Snowpack is already well above the median peak that typically occurs in March. Its size has been within record territory since January 10th. If it keeps storming, snowpack records will be set.
A good-looking snowpack means a water supply that’s in “really good shape,” said Smallcomb.
Down in Bishop, the water’s already there. Historic rainfall has dropped 8.57 inches of water onto the city since October 1st.
That’s 177% of the average annual rainfall. In just three and a half months.
Smallcomb issued a word of warning. “Soil moisture is well above normal,” he said. Great for runoff efficiency come spring and summer. But, it also primes the area for flooding if major atmospheric river storms return in February or March. Keep those sandbags on hand.
While we haven’t done an official count, it seems about 50% of the parking spots at Vons are buried.
The brightside – there’s nothing like that feeling of getting a parking spot. Even if it’s all the way by Carl’s Jr.