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But as we’ve been saying for the past year, no single year perfectly matches the ‘typical’ pattern.
These sort of shifts are not unexpected to us, which is why our forecasts are probabilistic.
While most people expected flooding and torrential rains, we only had small doses of it in early January. By itself, that’s not enough to fully alleviate the impact of four-plus years of drought, but it should help keep the tap flowing at least modestly this year over southern California, which imports a good share of its water from the Sierra.
In fact, we've had more impact in our region from squall lines and high wind (Jan. Additional water comes into So Cal from the Colorado River basin, where the snowpack has been reasonably close to average, although powerhouse early storms over this region segued into a largely dry late winter. Drought Monitor report issued Thursday, the National Drought Mitigation Center kept 35% of California in exceptional long-term drought (the most dire category).
The associated subtropical jet has occasionally punched into the Southwest but more often headed toward northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Very cool here on the island of Kauai, Hawaii at the moment, just 61F this morning (how do I cope!? Last week we had a (unofficial) record 90F one day and a high of only 62F the next after a cold-front swept though.
This winter, the most anomalous warm water and convection has been in the central Pacific, close to the Date Line.The unexpectedly soggy Midwest and parched Southwest are especially striking.No major storms are in the immediate forecast for the Southwest, and Pacific storms become much less frequent from late March onward across southern California into Arizona and New Mexico.Hot temperatures may add to the discomfort: San Diego just notched the warmest February in its 142-year climate record, only the latest in a series of heat records set over the last two years. However, there is something of an analog, according to Michael Ventrice (The Weather Company).Ventrice has analyzed the location and strength of the semi-permanent equatorial trough, or standing wave, in the Pacific that corresponds to each strong El Niño of recent decades.