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The Mono-logue » Blog Archive » Mono Lake’s wet May keeps on keeping on

Mono Lake’s wet May keeps on keeping on

May 23rd, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Clouds have covered the Mono Basin for much of the last three weeks. Mono Lake on May 20. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Clouds have covered the Mono Basin for much of the last three weeks. Mono Lake on May 20. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

A week ago, at mid-month, we excitedly were tallying up the already-record-making Mono Basin precipitation totals for May and the rise in Mono Lake. Who would have thought that it would keep raining and snowing—especially during the driest year of one of the worst droughts on record?

Well, it has kept raining and snowing! An unbelievably wet May has become even more unbelievable. As of May 22, precipitation in Lee Vining has totaled 3.76 inches on ten days of measurable rain and snow—and another wet week is in the forecast. May precipitation measured at Cain Ranch is now surpassing May 1994, the wettest May since records began in 1931. This is on the heels of the third-driest October–March period since 1931 (drier than every year but 1977 and 2007).

A stormy May 21st at South Tufa. You can't tell, but Mono Lake is rising before our very eyes! Photo by Erv Nichols.

A stormy May 21st at South Tufa. You can’t tell, but Mono Lake is rising before our very eyes! Photo by Erv Nichols.

Mono Lake has responded to the wet weather over the past week by—you guessed it—continuing to rise! As of Wednesday (even before the last 1/3 of an inch of rain) it was 6379.08 feet above sea level, the highest it has been since the end of October 2014. June will begin with the lake about a quarter of a foot higher than the lake level forecast, meaning it likely will exceed the forecast by a precious few inches all summer and fall. That doesn’t even count the additional runoff that during the next month will cascade down from the fresh May snow in the high country.

While the pattern of wet Mays preceding wet years (such as 1977–78 and 1994–95) is encouraging, our optimism is tempered by years like 1989–90, when a wet May preceded a dry year only halfway through a six-year drought.

Negit Island, almost completely obscured by rain, on May 18. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Negit Island, almost completely obscured by rain, on May 18. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

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13 Responses to “Mono Lake’s wet May keeps on keeping on”

  1. avatar Arlene Motz Says:

    Wonderful news!!

  2. avatar Liliane Gersh Says:

    This is such great news! While I was in CA, there was hardly any rain anywhere. Now that I am back in Berlin, hearing that there is real rain falling in May is amazing! I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  3. avatar Chris Reed Says:

    This is probably a direct result of global warming and it reflects the difference between climate change and weather, i.e., trends vs. local effects. The more heat energy there is in the atmosphere, the more variation we will see in weather. Texas is flooding too after years of drought. Weather predictions based on past history are going to be less reliable. Watch out! Expect the unexpected.

  4. avatar James Richards Says:

    That is great news,just keep on raining just for the lake. We need it.

  5. avatar Jean Brocklebank Says:

    The love I feel for Mono Lake rushes to my heart as I read this news.

    May her whole self (all critters great and small, all species both floral and faunal, all the humans who care for her day in day out) feel renewal.

    We’ll be there in July. Haven’t missed a summer at Mono Lake since 1973.

  6. avatar Tom Miller Says:

    I hope we can keep all the extra moisture! But L.A. will try anything to get back in our “pocket” Tom Miller

  7. avatar Shelley Burns Says:

    Yay! I have hoping for rain to return since that wet December just past.

  8. avatar Ron Tillotson Says:

    I hope this unexpected rain with increase in lake level isn’t giving the LADWP any intervention ideas. YEAH for Mono Lake! My wife and I love it.

  9. avatar Karen Burtness Prak Says:

    Rain at Mono! And snow! What glorious news! At last…something to celebrate in California’s ghastly weather!

  10. avatar Kathleen Anderson Says:

    Checking the forecast every day, so happy for the rain and snow!

  11. avatar Mark Davis Says:

    I thought wet summers often follow dry winters around here. I hope we get regular rains not just in May, but through the Summer. Since water exports are limited, much of it will flow in to Mono lake. A rise in a drought? Who cares when Mono gets a boost? It will also benefit DWP in the Owens River drainage. This had to help Crowley and Pleasant reservoirs. So even without the Mono basin water, they may be able to export at least some water this year, instead of none. This late wet is providential since it stays in the basin. Let us not underappreciate water in Lee Vining and Rush Creeks! Those restored streams need flushing flows and this will help.

  12. avatar Noel Park Says:

    As my ex-wife used to say, “Thank God for little favors”. My younger son spent several summers at Log Cabin Wilderness Camp and they used to have occasional T-storms during the summer. So maybe there is hope for some more rain in the coming months. We look to the day!

  13. avatar Sandra L. Wieser Says:

    Love the good news. The last time I read about Mono Lake, the news was not too encouraging.