California snow pack last year and this year. NASA/NOAA
The comparison of satellite imagery by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is pretty stark. The left image shows the Sierra Nevada snowpack on January 13, 2013. The right image is the same day on the calendar this year. The Bay Area News Group also did a story with a vivid graphic about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge of high pressure that is keeping the usual winter storms from even approaching California.
Here's another data point: Mono County sent a press advisory today inviting tourists to come ski at Mammoth or June Mountain (on just a few runs) — or to hike. In January. "Skiing and Hiking? Mono County’s Unusual Winter" was the headline.
The conditions at Mammoth actually have potentially big repercussions for the U.S. Olympic team heading to Sochi, Russia next month. Athletes bidding to be on the U.S. snowboarding team are getting their final qualifying races on Mammoth Mountain this weekend. Previous qualifying events elsewhere were cancelled because of the lack of snow.
This weekend will determine, for instance, if snowboardcross champion Lindsey Jacobellis goes to her third Olympics. She is the Vermont athlete who fell because of a styling move she attempted at the end of a race she was winning at the Turin games in 2006 and settled for a silver medal, and also fell and was eliminated from the podium at Vancouver in 2010. We wrote about her here — I want my kids to be like her — and more recently here — What became of Lindsey Jacobellis? She has worked back through two knee surgeries and currently has a broken thumb, and won her first World Cup race since the injuries at Lake Louise in December. Last weekend she medaled at a race in Vallnord, Andorra and has already qualified to be on the U.S. team.
Watch Lindsey Jacobelis fly at Lake Louise (the audio is pretty cool — I think that's her who screams at the end the race. She is interviewed at the end of the video.)