Winning the weather lottery

Photographer Dave Thomas took this photo of the sky on Monday evening.

Photographer Dave Thomas took this photo of the sky on Monday evening.

Climatologists sometimes compare drought to credit card debt, in that you generally can’t get out of five years of debt with a single payment.

Unless you win the lottery.

That’s what we would suggest has happened across the last third of the water year.

Key to all that was a January that saw a record 8.33 inches of precipitation in Minden, where people have been tracking the weather since 1906.

That’s not far from an entire year’s worth of moisture, and it got quite a boost from December’s 6.03 inches, which was the third biggest total for the month in 116 years.

As of the first day of spring on Monday, 19.98 inches of precipitation have fallen during the 2022-23 water year, nearly tying the record calendar year total of 20 inches that fell in 2017.

Hemming and hawing about whether the drought has ended came to an official conclusion on March 16, when the latest U.S. Drought Monitor maps revealed that all but the far northeast corner of Douglas County is clear of even of abnormally dry conditions.

As of the first day of spring, this is already the sixth wettest March on record with 2.95 inches, exceeding 1991’s Miracle March production of 2.64 inches. Nearly a third of a century ago, that total marked a spike in an otherwise very dry year in the middle of an eight-year drought. This year it registers as a blip on the weather radar.

Irrigation season opens on April 1, and by most predictions, there will easily be another .02 inches of rain between now and then.

But just because this drought is over doesn’t mean there isn’t another dry spell around the corner. As much moisture is locked up in the Sierra today, that will likley be gone by July and we’ll be back in line to buy another ticket in the water lottery.


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