Unusual Weather Leads to a Cool Spring

Instead of the usual 90 degree days this time of year, cool temperatures, rain and snow have been with us for over a month. With short bursts of rain and highs in the 80s, many people in the Owens Valley have welcomed this unusual weather, but after a long winter in Mammoth some residents might be wondering if they are going to sprout moss.

rain_on_sierraDennis Mattinson, forecast specialist for Sierra Wave, says he expects the cool and wet weather to continue into next week. The afternoon thunderstorms of the typical monsoon season usually occur in the summer, but May and June are often marked with clear blue skies. Its really quite strange, he says.

Mattinson says that these latest storms are different from the summer monsoon, typical in July and August, in that there has been little lightning and little measurable precipitation in the Owens Valley. The low pressure system parked off the coast of California keeps sending shortwave troughs through the region. In some ways, its like a late winter, he says.

Whats behind this unusual weather pattern for the Eastern Sierra? Mattinson says he doesnt know and adds that even the weather forecasters with access to the big supercomputers are not saying anything about this.

Another aspect of the weather that Mattinson says is worth watching is the return of El Nino, which often means a stormy wet winter for the Sierra. Right now there are no signs of an El Nino, but Mattinson says that weather watchers should know more about a potential El Nino in the next month or two.

Mattinson expects this current pattern of clouds and low pressure troughs to continue into the middle of next week. When the usual summer rains do come back in mid July or so, Mattinson predicts this summer to could have a more active monsoon than weve seen in the past few years, but the past few summer monsoons havent been much to talk about anyway, he says.

After seven weeks of cool and wet weather another week of the same is expected. If the summer monsoon comes as usual, this could shape up to be a relatively mild summer.

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