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.