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March Madness has new meaning in Almanor

By Dale Knutsen


No, not the basketball series … this year it’s about the weather.  March in the Lake Almanor basin was wild with more than four times the average amount of snowfall and very cold temperatures.  Overall our temperatures ran about 7 degrees colder than average, which resulted in very little snow melt.  The average low temperature for the month was just under 18 degrees F., and there were two mornings early in the month when the low at Chester airport registered zero degrees.  The average high temperature for March this year was 44 degrees, well below the long-term norm.

In a typical year March snowfall would be tapering off from heavier amounts in December, January and February.  But such was not the case this year.  We received the heaviest snows in March, totaling some 88 inches on the west shore.  When that is added to an already impressive earlier snowfall accumulation, the season total now stands at 306.5 inches (25.5 feet), a figure that is 257 percent of average for this point in the season.  That total also makes this the third heaviest snowfall year on record, passing the 295 inches from the 1992-93 season and exceeded only by the 332 inches of the 2010-11 season and the incredible 362 inches of the 1951-52 season.  With decks and roofs straining under the load, nobody in the basin is wishing for any more snow this year!

Total precipitation from the March storms was impressive as well.  Typically we would anticipate receiving a bit over four inches of water content in an average March, but this year we received 10.54 inches of water at the Prattville monitoring site.  That brings the July – June season accumulation to 43.12 inches, a figure that is 158 percent of average for this point in the season.  Or, to put it in a broader perspective, that number is 135 percent of our ANNUAL average.

The April outlook is for unsettled and modestly wet conditions for the first week, followed by a welcome dry and warming trend.  Hopefully the return of more seasonable temperatures will result in substantial roof snow melting and reduction in snow loads, along with the start of spring runoff.

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