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May-June 2009

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Talk about global warming turned to chatter about global cooling from the Midwest into the Northeast, where January temperatures averaged at least 5°F below normal. While much of this region experienced a reprieve from the heavy snow of December, an extensive snow cover remained in place due to persistently cold conditions. In contrast, mild, breezy weather kept the northern and central High Plains free of snow for much of January.

Meanwhile, dry weather prevailed from the Rockies westward, except for pockets of heavy snow across the Intermountain West and early-month downpours and flooding in the Pacific Northwest. An area from California into the Great Basin, where drought developed during the winter of 2006-2007, was of particular concern due to already-low reservoir levels and the risk of completing a third consecutive year of drought. At month’s end, California’s 150 intrastate reservoirs held just 62 percent of their normal volume of water for January 31. At the same time, the Sierra Nevada snow pack contained a meager average of 10 inches of liquid, 59 percent of average for the date.

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