California has been in the grip of a drought for the last five or six years. Conditions have been such that many parts of the state were identified as being in a condition of severe drought. And while the winter of 2015/2016 was supposed to usher in an El Niño that was going to ease the drought, other larger scale atmospheric and oceanic conditions steered that much needed rain to the north and away from the southern parts of the state. Unexpectedly, the winter of 2016/2017 turned out to be the real drought-buster with enormous amounts of rain and snow falling from one end of California to the other. Even those parts of the state suffering from severe drought conditions have now been deemed drought-free.
The swings in the amount of rain and snow falling in California is a normal feature of the Mediterranean climate with which we live. From 1877 to 2016 the average annual rainfall in Los Angeles has been 14.77 inches (37.5 cm) with a standard deviation of 7.02 inches (17.8 cm), but that number is just the mathematical average across time. Rarely does Los Angeles get that amount of precipitation. Over that span of 139 years, there have only been seven years in which the rainfall total was within one inch of that average, and only 17 more years in which it was between one and two inches of that average. At the other end of the spectrum, there have been 67 years in which the total rainfall was either five inches lower, or higher than that average. The lowest recorded rainfall in that span was 3.21 inches (8 cm) in the 2006-2007 rain year, while the highest was 38.18 inches (97 cm) in 1883-1884. Finally, within that time there have been 83 years in which the annual total rainfall was below that average, and just 56 years in which it exceeded that average. The average rainfall in those 83 below average years was 10.13 inches (25.7 cm) and in the 56 above average years is was 21.65 inches (55 cm). This tends to indicate that while we have more below average years, the above average years ten to be over-achievers in rainfall production.
Rainfall is just one of the many ways that California is a land of extremes.
Today’s photo was taken at Devil’s Punchbowl in northern Los Angeles County on Christmas Day 2016 with a Canon EF28-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens zoomed to 85 mm on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III. The exposure was set to 1/180 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 400.