As you all well know, much of the US, especially the Southeast and California, was entrenched in a drought, with the worst effects being felt in California. The drought there had been ongoing for several years, and people wondered when it would stop.
The southeast drought had been ongoing since the beginning of 2016. Areas were well, well below normal in rainfall for much of the region for much of the year, likely peaking in early November. Chattanooga at one point was upwards of 18″ below normal on rainfall for the year.
The peak of this was towards the end of 2016, when both regions were gripped by a severe and worsening drought, and wildfires spread across the southeast, most notably impacting Gatlinburg, TN.
Well, over the past month, much of the drought across both of these regions has been nearly ended. As in, almost destroyed. It is actually pretty awesome, as storms have been repeatedly moving through these regions. One of the major reasons that California had been in a drought for so long was the development and sustainment of a strong winter time high pressure system over the Northeastern Pacific and Gulf of Alaska. This was fostered by an area of well above average sea surface temperatures, and this region didn’t weaken until this year.
This allowed for the semi-permanent ridge that developed in that area to break down, and create an active pattern. This allowed for multiple storm systems to traverse through the west coast, and then making their way into the southeast. Parts of the mountains in California have seen record snowfall this month, and the rest of the state has seen lots of precipitation.
It’s official – more snow has fallen in January than any other month in Mammoth’s recorded history with 246” (over 20 FEET!) #mammothstories pic.twitter.com/NnpR1p2bU9
— MammothMountain (@MammothMountain) January 25, 2017
The southeastern US has seen system, after system, after system over the past few weeks as well, with plenty of precip falling. Some areas have seen well over 200% of their normal rainfall.
The change in in the drought conditions has been abrupt, so I am hoping that the rain can keep falling consistently across these regions.