Just like the fabled January Thaw comes in the middle of winter and brings some warm relief, so too a March Break has come in the otherwise wet winter California has been experiencing.
Primary ridge and trough orientation across the northern hemisphere turns out to be major drivers of our weather pattern. Usually, high pressure in the east means low pressure in the west- and vice versa. For the past 3 weeks, high pressure has mainly resided in the west. At this moment tremendous rain is soaking the east coast and, as you could probably predict, it is just the opposite on the opposite side of the country. But this pattern is getting ready to snap back into a cool and wet condition for California and Kern County. Following delightful temperatures over the weekend that featured highs in the mid 80s with humidity in the single digits, a breathtaking reversal of fortunes is about to happen- weatherwise. Once again, a significant trough of low pressure will spin southeastward into the state over the next few days bringing a temperature tumble of nearly 30 degrees.
Wednesday and Thursday mark the frontier between March and April, a time in which high temperatures in the valley may not achieve 60 degrees. In fact, the forecast is for mid to upper 50s both days. Compare that with 83 this past Sunday. In the mountains, snow is expected to fall as low as 3,500 feet for April Fool’s Day- and that’s not a joke. Travel could be compromised over the Grapevine and through Tehachapi. However, computer models don’t seem to be painting an especially wet event. But still, the shock will be palpable going from Springtime to Winter. This is the most likely time of year for dramatic swings in temperature to occur. Together with the last blast of winter will come howling winds, which could gust to over 100 MPH at ridge tops. Watches and warnings are already posted for the wind.
So far, March precipitation of .24” in Bakersfield represents a mere 18% of normal. Apparently, March will NOT be the fourth consecutive above normal month for precipitation. But it is still possible that April may deliver more than the average .45”. We are still running slightly above average for the water year, but just barely. More rain is needed and the El Nino indices are still in the moderate category. Computer models indicate another system right after Easter, early next week, which should bring more needed rainfall. We’re not done just yet. But once the rainy season concludes, all long range indicators show a hot and dry summer. Not that that is unusual for Bakersfield, but models are predicting a better than average chance for hotter than normal temperatures beginning in June.