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May-June 2017

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From the Editor

So much can happen in one year, which is one of the reasons we produce an annual Almanac issue of Weatherwise. Those of us in the West have experienced the dramatic turns of fortune afforded by weather events in spades in the last year. In early 2016, as we put together the 2015 annual Almanac, we were still suffering through one of the worst droughts in California's history, with no end in sight and little hope that El Niño would produce the hoped-for rains that the state needed so much. Indeed, the state's poor fortune, rainwise, continued through the end of the year, and the lack of rainfall is one of the top headlines for this issue's 2016 Almanac. The year ended with the entire state still in a severe state of drought.

Now, as I write this letter just two months after the end of 2016, the northern part of the state has emerged from the drought after a prolonged series of storms has brought more rain than reservoirs can handle. As is so often the case, it's a matter of “be careful what you wish for.” Fields are flooded, many roads are blocked due to numerous landslides, trickling creeks have become roaring currents, and rain-weary residents are wondering where the usual sunny California weather has gone. Lake Oroville, which was often used as a poster child for the severity of the drought, is under threat of its main emergency spillway failing as more rain moves in.

Southern California, though drier than the northern half of the state, is anticipating more storms to provide additional drought relief. There is little doubt that California's rain and emergence from the drought will be one of the top stories of 2017's Almanac issue of Weatherwise.

Flooding elsewhere was a major theme of 2016 and is highlighted in this issue. Flooding devastated areas hit by Hurricane Matthew in October. Meanwhile, major floods also affected Louisiana in both March and August, West Virginia in June, and Houston in April. Internationally, China suffered severe floods in July, while Europe was inundated in June, and India in July and August.

Meanwhile, numerous heat waves affected the world in 2016, as the combined land-ocean temperatures reached the highest levels on record. In related news, droughts affected California, the Southeastern United States, and the Mideast. Meanwhile, hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes made their presence felt across the globe, as severe weather of all stripes made for yet another year for the record books.       

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