Season Snowfall Totals Have Dropped Since 1970 in the Sierra, But Average Precipitation Has Gone Up

Snow season in Northern California has always been characterized by starts and stops, but this season may have brought a little extra whiplash with a big storm in October, a dry November, record snowfall in December to end 2021 only to be followed by a near-record dry January.

This region has seen similar extremes before, but because of climate change and resulting rising global temperatures, weather patterns are shifting to make these dramatic “dry to wet back to dry” periods more common. Tracers of this trend are showing up in climate data for the Sierra and the Western U.S. as a whole.