Is it a ‘Miracle March’? Historical Data Shows Just How Remarkable Snowfall This Month Has Been

On the verge of what seemed to be another major drought in California, March flew in to save the day with over 150 inches of snow. How does this "Miracle" compare with years past?

 

During the months of January and February, NorCal braced for what could only be an incoming drought. Snowfall was well below yearly average, ski resorts were having trouble staying open and certain lakes were beginning to look low.

Then a hero flew in to save the day. Have no fear, Miracle March is here.

The term ‘Miracle March’ was coined in 1991, when California was experiencing its worst drought since the Dust Bowl and NorCal mountains were on track for their worst year of snowfall in recorded history.

Then on March 1, 1991 it began to snow, and it didn’t stop until 240 inches fell on the mountains all month long. Snowpack went from 17% of average to 73% of average, ski resorts were saved and the drought went from catastrophic to manageable. It was considered a miracle.

In 1991, NorCal mountains went from an average 84 inches of total snowfall through February to 286 inches of snow fall through March. In 2018, we have gone from an average 104 inches of snowfall through February to 253 inches and counting through March.

That’s right, we are well on our way to similar snowfall totals then the famous Miracle March of 1991. And while our situation isn’t as dire as it may of been in 1991, we still have significant drought fears in our current climate and this March is the medicine we needed.

This graph, created by opensnow.com, shows the 10 lowest snowfall totals Tahoe has seen. You can see just how close we were to having the lowest snowfall in recorded history before March hit (see the black line, with an edited line to show how close we were to the bottom). You can see it skyrocket to the top of the list during the month of March:

Graph created by OpenSnow.com

Now take a look at all snowfalls from March since 1970:

Graph create by OpenSnow.com

As you can see, 1991 still holds the record for March snowfall. But with 10 days left in the month, we still have a chance to break that record.

California water storage still sits below average and snowpack is still somewhat low in comparison to other years, but considering the dire situation we were in during February, it’s safe to say this is a ‘Miracle March.’

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