NOAA and NASA both called February’s global temperatures the most abnormally warm on record for any month due in part to a strong El Nino and warm Sea Surface temperatures.

The change in patterns has helped reduce drought conditions in California and the state will be able to ease mandatory water reductions. Now farmers and other customers will be provided 45 percent of the water they requested for the year.

And just in time for the first day of spring, a powerful Nor’easter is making its way up the East Coast this weekend while a deluged Delta is trying to stay above water. 

 Pacific weather systems pummeled the West Coast this week, bringing much-needed rain and snow to the Region.

A steady stream of El Nino-related storms brought rain this winter to parts of the Golden State at lower elevations, and one to two feet of fresh snow was to the Cascades and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. Snowpack in the area was close to above average for the season.

Four straight days of rain have helped replenish several key reservoirs in California.

Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute Director and Hydrologist:

"The good news is the rains of the last several weeks have done a tremendous job of refilling some of the biggest reservoirs in California. Going into March, we were way below normal in reservoir storage and the amount of snow in the mountains. And with the recent storms we're pretty much up to normal, up to average for this time of year."

 

Ample snowpack and full reservoirs in Northern California are critical for the state as rain water and melted snow eventually flows to the Central Valley and densely populated Southern California, which has received little rain this winter.

Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute Director and Hydrologist:

"The bad news is average isn't good enough. We've had four incredibly dry years, and it looks like this year, even with the average amount of rain and snow we've gotten, isn't going to be enough to end the drought."

To date, 99.6 percent of California is locked in some sort of drought. The last time that threshold was below 90 percent was in March of 2013 when the state was 3 years in to one of the worst droughts in its history.

Meanwhile in the South, Louisiana and Texas residents are asking for less rain as flooding engulfs areas around the border the two states share. Thousands of homes have been evacuated as the swollen Sabine River reaches levels not seen since the 1880’s. The flooding has claimed four lives in Louisiana and officials predict it could be a week before displaced residents can return to the homes.

Governor Greg Abbott, R – Texas, “People need to remember about the possibility that the water could continue to rise for another day or two.”

 

The pattern has also slowed fieldwork in the delta as corn planting is lagging behind schedule. In the Upper Midwest, up to a foot of snow teamed up with strong winds and heavy rains to plague parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin that are already dealing with widespread flooding.

Andrew Kurtz, Marathon City, Wisconsin Administrator, "The floodwaters, resulting from the rain last night, the snow melt and the ground being frozen, everything kind of runs through this area and flows down the big rib river and it just kind of backs up right in this area."

The picture in other parts of the Midwest was a bit sunnier as the result of a more mild winter. Officials predict an early start to planting thanks to warmer soil temperatures and favorable moisture conditions. But early planting hopes could be dashed as forecasters call for a cooling trend that could dampen an early planting parade in the plains later next week.