California snowpack reaches all-time high after 17 atmospheric rivers
The big picture: The latest bomb cyclone associated with an atmospheric river that dumped more heavy snow across the Sierra Nevada this week helped break the record 1982-1983 season in terms of water content on Thursday, per the California Department of Water Resources.
- Seventeen atmospheric rivers have struck California since December, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
- The onslaught of storms means that more than half of the state is no longer considered to be in drought — with 45% of California now estimated to be "abnormally dry," data from the Drought Monitor published Thursday shows.
- In the Sierra, it's 298% of normal in the region's south, 233% in the center and 191% in the north, where a record set in the 1982-83 season still stands.
- Mammoth Mountain confirmed it recorded its snowiest season following this week's storm, with 702 inches falling in total at its main lodge and the U.C. Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reported its second-highest seasonal total — 713.8" since Oct. 1.
For the record: Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow highways of moisture that can travel thousands of miles.
- It's also intensifying extreme weather fluctuations. California has long experienced sudden swings between drought and flood, but the rapid fire of atmospheric rivers to pummel the state since December is on the extreme end of weather whiplash, Freedman notes.
What's next: Another winter storm threatens to bring more heavy snowfall and strong winds to the Sierra Nevada over Sunday night, the National Weather Service's Reno office warns in a forecast discussion.