Katie Priest | The Poly Post

Southern California storms bring chaos and hope

By Katie Priest, March 7, 2023

A powerful winter storm descended on Southern California last week and wreaked havoc across the region throughout the weekend, canceling some on-campus events. 

These storms swept across California over the past month bringing a variety of precipitation and atmospheric rivers. The area around Cal Poly Pomona had an average temperature of 43 degrees and an average of .63 inches of precipitation over the five-day period. In Pomona, the month of February sees about four inches of rainfall on average, according to the National Weather Service.

Rain, snow, hail and wind prompted freeway closures, the postponement and cancelation of multiple sporting events and the first blizzard warning for Los Angeles County since 1989. The CPP home baseball series against Sonoma State was among the canceled events.

Some CPP students, like chemical engineering student Renae Munson, experienced these issues on their commutes to and from campus.

“Driving in the rain is kind of scary, especially when you can’t see,” said Munson, who commutes to campus from Murrietta.

For others, the amount of precipitation raises questions about the status of the drought in California. Stephen Osborn, an associate professor of geology, thinks it is still unclear whether the amount of precipitation, while good for the state, is enough to tilt the scale for the drought. 

“We’re getting all these atmospheric rivers right where we get a lot of rain, and it’s absolutely a good thing,” said Osborn.  

Osborn is more focused on the amount of snow that is stored rather than the rain.

“What’s really important is the amount of snow that we get,” said Osborn. “That will go a very long way toward whether or not we’re in drought next year or not.” 

Andre Davancens | The Poly Post

Mountain regions in LA and San Bernardino counties experienced snowfall of up to 100 inches, trapping multiple residents and visitors. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for 13 counties across the state Wednesday, March 1, including LA and San Bernardino county.

“Severe winter storms struck California beginning in late February. These storms damaged and forced the closure of federal and state highways and threaten critical infrastructure,” Newsom said in a press release. “These storms resulted in power outages, forced evacuations, and stranded residents and motorists in impacted counties.”

Hunter Ross, a chemical engineering student, believes the amount of precipitation the state has seen will make no difference in the drought.

“I don’t think that California actually is doing a good job of reclaiming the water that’s coming as precipitation,” said Ross.

Ross is not entirely pessimistic. He believes if the state put more effort into saving the water, it would be good for the environment. 

Osborn warned that while these storms make it seem like the water crisis is on the mend, students should still conserve water. 

“Just because we get a lot of rain this winter doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be careful with the water they use next year, because the more we save, the more we save for the long term,” said Osborn. 

According to the National Weather Service, Pomona will see more cold temperatures and wind next week.

Feature image by Andre Davancens

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