Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sierra May!

Last March, meteorologists reported that the El Niño ocean surface temperatures were changing rapidly and that El Niño weather patterns were weakening,  and also by next Fall we may experience the opposite of El Niño weather, called La  Niña. 

Today, while driving from Reno, Nevada to California on Interstate 80, we encountered a May snow storm that dumped snow in the high Sierra and delivered cold temperatures as well as near-white-out conditions. High wind conditions slammed snow onto us and fellow travelers, causing slower traffic conditions, and Amber Alert Message Board warnings to carry chains.

2015 was reportedly the warmest year on record (since humans started recording temperatures), and this year seems to be basking in the El Niño's complex weather patterns...hence, snow in May.

Many friends and acquaintances have recently mentioned that they are "ready for the summer", however, I personally like cooler temperatures, rain, and snow storms. In the wake of severe drought conditions in the western United States, which we are not out of the woods by any means, even with May snow, I would think people would be more concerned about precipitation levels than "summer fun".
U.S. Drought Monitor forCalifornia
Graphic: David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln in partnership with national and federal agencies have a drought monitoring website at that shows current conditions of drought throughout the United States. In the eleven most western states, over 43 million people reside in some level of drought, and to date California is the hardest hit. California literally represents all levels of drought conditions, from no drought to exceptional drought (D4) conditions. As of today, California's drought map developed by David Simeral of the Western Regional Climate Center depicts the severity. Nevada is close with up to Extreme Drought (D3) conditions.

We do not know what the next few years will offer in the way of precipitation, and today's snow was welcomed. I feel that any amount of precip equates to the proverbial drop-in-the-bucket, and every drop matters to Californians and Nevadans alike. I hope that those 43 million people realize that despite the wonderful snow pack we received this past winter, we still need to conserve our water, and find ways to reduce our water usage. My husband and I decided to eliminate the waste of water on ornamental lawns at our place in Reno, for a natural landscape with drought-resistant plants. Not only a huge improvement of the house's curb appeal, but our water usage is much less. Win-win for us!

Our house before we moved into it in 2013.

After adding a walkway, repairing driveway and sidewalk, and installing natural landscaping, 2016.

I am all for a little "summer fun", but I am so grateful for today's precipitation in the form of rain and snow over the Sierra Nevada.

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