The wildflowers were trying to bloom before we left for Elko on January 24th, primarily the ubiquitous Fiddleneck and Shepherd’s Purse, but yesterday as Robbin and I went to the Paregien Ranch, we could add Foothill Poppies, Purple Lupine, White-veined Mallow, Popcorn Flowers, Scorpionweed among others—all 30 days earlier than normal that may indicate an early, and perhaps short, spring, especially with record breaking temperatures in the high-70s the past two days.
As we enter what appears to be our fourth drought year with only 5.47” of rain to date, it could be worse. Last year at this time we had only accumulated 1.6”, a year in which we had to feed hay from August through March with a total rainfall for the season of 7.78”. Our 9-year average, including the last three dry years, is 14.36”.
Fortunately, some rain is predicted for this evening and Saturday that may linger into Sunday. Our south slopes have been stressed for the past three years, showing mostly brown with no cover of old feed to hold moisture or offer protection for the new grasses.
Additionally, there is little snow in the Sierras to supply surface water demands from Valley farmers. Water storage in flood control and irrigation facilities is at an all-time low. Half-way through our rainy season, it’s too late for any snow the Sierras might receive to freeze, thus we have lost any time-released benefits farmers might ordinarily enjoy, leaving us more susceptible to spring floods if the Sierras get any amount of snow for the remainder of the season.
No matter how you look at it, it doesn’t look good.