WEATHER WEST: Winter of 2018-2019. What Happened? What’s Next?

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 01 April 2019




Winter of 2018-2019

What Happened? What’s Next?

Just how wet and cold was winter 2018-2019?
Weather West, March 24, 2019.


"...punctuated by California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire in history during the uncharacteristic month of November."

Seasonal Precip
“Overall cumulative precipitation anomalies have not been particularly exceptional...”

Seasonal Temps
“...temperatures for the full period really haven’t been that cold–shaking out pretty close to average for most of the state. (Of course, that somewhat masks the very cold conditions that occurred during February).”

The Question
“So how, exactly, can California have received 156% of average snow water equivalent when precipitation over the same interval was only ~120% of average and temperatures were “near average?”

This Year’s Huge Snow Pack
“...the vast majority of those feet of snow fell during a 6 week interval during January and February that were particularly cold and wet. That storm onslaught–by itself–was enough to boost Sierra snow totals well above average values…for the entire season!”

What's Up Next?
“Unsettled conditions to persist, but anomalous warmth will start to creep in”

Big Thaw on the Way
”...ensemble forecasts are suggesting that warmer-than-average temperatures will start to spread over much of the recently-cold American West by early April, despite ongoing precipitation. That suggests that the snowmelt season will likely begin to accelerate in the next 10 days.”

Degrees of Intensity
“...does portend a somewhat above average risk of snowmelt flooding in California this spring, though nothing like the extreme risk faced by nearly the entire Midwest and Mississippi River basin in the coming weeks.”

El Nino
“El Niño still in the cards for this summer…and beyond?”

“...rather anemic...”

“…broad multi-model ensemble agreement that this event will persist into and even beyond summer–perhaps even strengthening further. That would be a pretty odd evolution, and we probably shouldn’t take ENSO projections for the summer and beyond too seriously yet...”

Weird Waters
“...these same models are also suggesting something potentially unusual going on with the warm “western boundary” ocean currents in most of the global ocean basins this summer (see Tweet above). Since I’m not a physical oceanographer, I’ve reached out to several to determine just how unusual it is.”


Addressed Above

Current Vs Averages

El Nino Behaviors


April 2

Big Picture
Where We're At





Supplemental Information

U.S. Drought Monitor Update for March 26, 2019,
NCEI, March 26, 2019.


“...moderate to severe drought covers 4.7% of the United States...”

Survey of this last week's weather.


Weather West

Jan 2019



Sept 2018

Best 2018 Weather Assessment at the Footstep of Fall


Weather Resources

Review the Backpacker’s Calendar for 2019

High Sierra Backpacker's Weather Page




April 2018 News Weather & Trail


April Trails Forum








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Weather West, analysis, assesment, Winter, weather, character, 2019, the winter of 2019


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