California Drought Report #28

With a strong El Niño a possibility this winter, I thought it would be useful to look at the rain and snow  fall during past Strong and Very Strong El Niño events.  NOAA is predicting a very strong and Joe Bastardi just a strong  El Niño. Both have had an impact on the local climate.

Very Strong              Nevada City Rain     Nevada City Snow     Lake Spaulding Snow

Winter of 82-83                  81/99in                      0in                                    310in

Winter of 97-98                 89/102in                    16in                                    374in


Winter of 57-58                  57/62in                      8in                                      319in

Winter of 65-66                  51/45in                      10in                                     404in (*record)

Winter  of 72-73                  44/82in                     17in                                     286in

Winter of 87-88                   49/46in                     11in                                     189in

  • The average rain fall in Nevada City is: 52in
  • The average snow fall in Nevada City is 22in
  • The average Lake Spaulding snow fall 251 inches.

From the historical record it appears that Very Strong El Niño events produce above average rain and above average snow. Strong El Niño events produced above average snow,  except in the winter of 87-88 when it was below average.

Rain fall in Strong El Niño in Nevada City is often near or below average. The 87-89 El Niño year was during a warm PDO, which may have influenced the lower precipitation levels. However, the Very Strong El Niño events occurred during a warm PDO.

According to scientists a warm PDO should have produce more moisture in the atmosphere. It appears that most strong and very strong El Niño events produce above average snow fall in the Sierra.  Let us hope that this is the case in during the coming winter.

Note:  The 404 inch snow fall during the 65-66 winter was a record for Lake Spaulding.

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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1 Response to California Drought Report #28

  1. Fuzz says:

    Russ, thanks for following up on this…very interesting. I hope next winter we have to use snowshoes to get to the mailbox.


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