Makers of automobile and truck chains likely experienced an uptick in business this week for anyone travelling I-80 in California.  

As the West braces for storm totals not seen in the last 10-25 years, the question of whether the drought is over rises again. Including 18 million Southeasterners still in drought. Josh Buettner has our weather wrap. 

2017’s meteorological birth pangs were felt across the nation this past week.   Low humidity and gusty winds sparked wildfires in parts of Oklahoma just before the new year, but no injuries were reported. 

According to the University of Nebraska Drought Monitor, parched conditions in the southeast saw a ten-point weekly improvement into January.  Early this week 60 mile per hour winds hammered the Florida panhandle and parts of the gulf coast, uprooting trees and damaging 30 homes.

Wes Oliver/Pensacola, Florida: “We’re getting a lot of rain.  And then I thought it was hailing.  And then the window to my room blew in and I figured it was a little more than hail.”

Heavy rains pummeled the Deep South from Mississippi to Georgia – a day after severe storms killed four people in Alabama. 

Grant Brown/Gulf Shores, Alabama: “We don’t know what it was.  We don’t know if it was a microburst.  We don’t know if it was a tornado.”

By mid-week heavy snow blanketed parts of the Western U.S. and pushed into the Rockies. Blizzard conditions closed major highways and triggered a small avalanche in the Sierra Nevadas.  Stiff winds toppled a towering evergreen into an Oregon home, killing an 8-year-old girl – the child of a volunteer firefighter working during the storm that downed trees across the state.

Jim Kusz/North Lincoln Fire & Rescue – Lincoln City, Oregon: “It’s an act of God.  We had trees falling all over Portland and the coast today, you know, we had strong winds last night.”

Golden State storm clouds, however, may contain a silver lining.  Near Lake Tahoe, snowpack surveyors took the first manual measurement of the wet season and found water content roughly half of normal as California flirts with a possible sixth year of drought.

Frank Gehrke/California Department of Water Resources:  “Many of the stations set records for precipitation in October and that really set us up well for increases in the reservoir storage.”

Several feet of snow are expected to cap the week in Northern and Central California’s mountain areas.  And what surveyors find between now and April 1 will guide state water officials in managing the water supply of the nation’s most populous agricultural producing state.

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.