Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Dry December so far

In the Mono Basin, the drought continues to press on, as severe as ever. Storms that drench the coast keep splitting apart as they hit the Sierra Nevada.

Storms dropped more December rain on San Francisco and San Jose than those cities have seen in decades. Two and a half feet of water fell on Mt. Tamalpais in the last three weeks and filled all of Marin County’s reservoirs. But in the Mono Basin, these same storms only dropped about half of the average December precipitation at Cain Ranch and a quarter of the average in Lee Vining. Aside from October 2011 and December 2012, Lee Vining hasn’t had a winter season month (October–March) with above-average precipitation since March 2011. That was almost four years ago.

But Lee Vining did almost set a new record this December—for wind. On December 11 we recorded an 81-mph gust hitting the roof of the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore. Luckily, the roof stayed on! Since our wind records began in 1998, the only other time we recorded hurricane-force winds was 87 mph in December 2005. Gusts reached 72 mph in December 2001 and December 2006. Otherwise, we typically get a few gusts in the 60s each winter.

Luckily, it is looking like it will be a white Christmas, and with that present of a few inches of snow, and a potentially wetter and colder pattern hopefully dropping more snow this weekend, we might end up with close to average December precipitation after all.