By Kelly Bjornstad
The first day of spring was March 20th, and though it’s only been in effect for less than a month, it’s arrived in full force! Flooding, large amounts of rain, and tornadoes have been among some of the things this spring season has brought to parts of California. Some parts of the state are even beginning to come out of the drought that Californians have been in and out of over decades.
The Long Beach rain record was exceeded with this spring’s showers. The Long Beach Post News writes “Long Beach shattered the previous March 21 rain record on Tuesday, when 1.53 inches of precipitation was reported at Long Beach Airport.” This is almost an inch of rain more than the previous record set in 1983, where 0.82 inches of rain fell over Long Beach. The National Weather Service explained that the previous Tuesday storm was a “Pacific low-pressure system interacting with California’s 12th atmospheric river since late December.” Since then, the NWS has predicted another tenth to quarter inch of additional rain, and Long Beach remained under flood watch for days following Tuesday’s storm.
According to the National Weather Service, Spring flooding has been above the normal amount this season. They explain, “It’s now not so much a question of if we will see flooding, but how severe and widespread it will be”. They continued on to say, “The severity of flooding will depend on if we receive heavy rainfall and/or very warm temperatures during the melt.” The Mississippi River, Minnesota River, and Chippewa River basins in particular are experiencing much higher water levels than usual.
Another unexpected event brought about this spring; tornadoes in SoCal. After a tornado touched ground in the Montebello area, Several buildings were torn apart, trees were uprooted, and one was left injured. The tornado’s winds reached up to 110 mph and left a good deal of property damage. The Los Angeles Times reports “11 mostly industrial buildings were red-tagged, meaning they were too dangerous to inhabit, and six more buildings sustained damage, according to the weather service.” The day before, according to the National Weather Service, a “weak” tornado had touched down in Carpinteria with winds that reached up to 75 mph. The tornado left another injured. Carol Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard explains that though tornadoes in California sound like a crazy event, it’s actually not unheard of. She says “To get a tornado in any one spot is very rare, but to see a few of them a year is not uncommon.”
Though, all this intense weather has brought one good thing. Multiple areas in California have been pulled out of the drought. California’s dry conditions have been fluctuating for decades, and the most recent storming means that multiple reservoirs and national parks are seeing some of the most water they’ve had in a while. Newsweek writes “As of February 7, over 15 percent of the state is free from drought, the first time such a level has been reached since 2021. A mere three months ago only 0.5 percent of the state was considered drought free.”
Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center told Newsweek “The past three years have been the driest three-year period on record [dating back to 1895.] That just beats the driest three-year period on record from 2013 to 2015. And both of these three-year periods have been the hottest on record.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their spring outlook and, as K5 summarizes, “It does appear that the month of April will favor temperatures below average with above-average temperatures favored into May and June.” The outlook details precipitation and temperatures across the country, giving us an idea of what’s in store for the season.
As the spring season continues to break records across the country, drivers, hikers, pedestrians, and communities alike must continue to stay cautious. These conditions are no joke, so be careful out there!