Benjamin J. Hatchett and Daniel J. McEvoy

Earth Interactions

Published date December 26, 2017

Exploring the Origins of Snow Drought in the Northern Sierra Nevada, California

  • States that warm snow drought is defined as above or near average accumulated precipitation coinciding with below average snow water equivalent at a point in time
  • States that dry snow drought is defined as below average accumulated precipitation and snow water equivalent at a point in time
  • Contends that such point-in-time definitions might miss important components of how snow droughts originate, persist, and terminate
  • Explores the hydrometeorological origins of potential snow droughts in the northern Sierra Nevada from water years 1951 to 2017 using these simple definitions and a variety of observations at monthly, daily, and hourly timescales
  • Finds that snow droughts can result from extreme early season precipitation, frequent rain on snow events, and low precipitation years
  • Results show that late season snow droughts can follow persistent warm and dry periods with effects that depend upon elevation