Dramatic change in western moisture situation in the wake of the PARADE OF ATMOSPHERIC RIVER STORMS into the West from Pacific is beautifully summarized in a CIMSS BLOG post by Margaret Mooney out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (https://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/satellite-blog/archives/52074)
Mooney has posted comparative DROUGHT MONITOR ANALYSES—both BEFORE and AFTER the dozen atmospheric storms this past winter and early this spring—and the change is stunning.
But as dramatic as the changes have been, whether the improvement is a “blip”—or represents a REAL and LONGER TERM CHANGE in the Western water situation—is going to depend on the wetter pattern becoming a regular occurrence in the West.
While the development of an El Niño—which is currently underway—may bode well for the precip trend over the coming cool season next fall, winter and spring (since El Niños after signal a wet pattern in the cool season in California and the southern and central Rockies), the region’s water issues haven’t gone away.
A NOTE: When our WGN-TV crew and I visited Lake Mead last fall the lake was down a stunning 178 ft. from its year 2000 level. That was a drop the size of an 18-story building. Lake Mead, our country’s largest reservoir, formed when the Hoover Dam was constructed across the Colorado River outside Las Vegas in the 1930s.
Based on projections by year’s end in 2023 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Lake Mead’s level is FORECAST TO RISE 10 to 30 ft. While that’s quite a change, that still means Lake Mead’s level will still be well below normal.
THE CHANGE in water levels to date can be seen in “BEFORE & AFTER” photos which have appeared on the “Las Vegas Locally” website of a deserted boat, completely exposed as Lake Mead water levels plummeted. The boat—surrounded by dry land until recently—has come to reflect the water issues surrounding the drop of Lake Mead in photo essays which have emerged on the subject. That boat is now again partially covered by water.
ALSO APPEARING AMONG THE GRAPHICS IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW is an analysis of the PERCENT OF NORMAL PRECIPITATION which has occurred over the past 6 months across the country from NOAA’s High Plains Regional Climate Center.