For most parts of the country, especially the Northeast, this winter has been incredibly mild, and one might even dare to say quite pleasant. While more typical weather for the time of year has now begun to take hold in most of these regions, people living out west might experience the same sort of atypical phenomenon, but in reverse effect. Rain and snow have already started to fall in San Francisco and parts of Northern California in what many are predicting as early signs of El Nino.
According to CBS Sacramento and other reports, light rain started in the area on Sunday, and by early Tuesday morning, downtown Sacramento had accumulated 1.1 inches of rainfall. While this amount is hardly significant, the predictions of harsh rain and snow — in a region without heavy duty snow plows — have many residents concerned.
“Earlier in December, some of the storms, each day was a quarter inch, third of an inch, so they weren’t spectacular in the Valley,” said Jason Klapp, with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “In the month of January, the last few of them have been very dry, we’ve had more [rain] just today than we’ve had over the last couple Januaries together.”
For this reason flood advisories have already been issued in many of the surrounding counties. Some estimates suggest the area will be hit with at least two feet of snow over the next two weeks. According to Accuweather.com, the current El Nino is as strong as the strongest one ever recorded, which was in 1997.
“Snow levels will lower Wednesday through Thursday with the big storm,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark. “That’s when the elevations between 4,000 and 6,000 feet will receive the bulk of their snow this week.”
Travel along many of the busiest highways and interstates is expected to be slow as drivers navigate visual impairment and slippery conditions the storms will bring. What probably sounds like small potatoes to many parts of the country could cause quite a disturbance out west.
“El Nino will likely bring heavy amounts of snow in short periods of time,” said Jered Shuknecht, marketing director of Pro-Tech Manufacturing and Distribution, Inc. a national manufacturer of containment plows. “That’s why it’s critical that you make every second count when clearing snow, maximizing your efficiency and clearing snow to increase safety.”
At least for a season it appears many California residents will get a taste of how the other half, in terms of climate, lives.