Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced a state of emergency on Wednesday after back-to-back storms buried mountain communities in 13 counties.
According to AP News, meteorologist and former top scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ryan Maue, this rain and snow defied the trend and was very unexpected. Like once in a generation, that is.
The winter in California was unusually wet, and around New Year’s, a torrent of atmospheric rivers started to form. The state’s mountains have seen more than 40 feet of snow this season, according to The Guardian, and rain in the lowlands equals snow in the mountains.
According to AP News, the most recent storms have piled up so much snow on mountain settlements that some of them are cut off, which is why an emergency has been declared. By of Wednesday, some areas in San Bernardino county, for instance, were digging their way out from beneath seven feet of snow.
David and Kelli Garra of Big Bear Lake said that the snow drifts rising from the ground had collided with the snow hanging down from their roof, which caused the roof of a Goodwin & Sons Store in Crestline to collapse under the weight.
We’ve experienced some severe storms, but this is simply unbelievable, said David G ra to AP News. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
According to PowerOutage.us, approximately 45,000 Californians were without power as of Friday at noon local time. Both Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Parks are closed; according to The Guardian, Yosemite broke a 54-year snowfall record on a single day.
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But there is a silver lining to all this snowfall for California. According to Thursday’s update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Southern and Central California, which was once engulfed in a megadrought, has now recovered.
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The West is not the only region going through an abnormally cold winter.
According to The Oregonian, on February 22 Portland, Oregon, received 10.8 inches of snow, the second-heaviest amount of snowfall overall and the most snow this late in the year.
Tonja Fransen, a meteorologist with the Portland National Weather Service, noted at the time that this was a huge issue.
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According to AP News: even Phoenix experienced a light dusting of snow on Thursday morning.
What caused the West Coast to receive so much snow? La Nia, according to meteorologists, is not to blame, but rather a confluence of cold air from the Arctic and a blocking pattern in the Pacific Ocean.
What the climate catastrophe, what is it? There may be a connection, though it’s hard to establish, between a warmer environment and more extreme precipitation events.