Extreme Weather: California Finally Gets Rain, And Northeast Doomed Next Week For 'Long-Duration Snow Event'

By Ben Wolford on February 28, 2014 12:58 PM EST

What's that? Angelenos are asking. Drought-stricken California is finally getting some much-needed precipitation. (Photo: Reuters)

What's that? Angelenos are asking. Drought-stricken California is finally getting some much-needed precipitation. (Photo: Reuters)

Spring begins March 20, but chances are high in the country's middle and eastern parts it won't feel like it. If you can scram for Florida next week, do it: Reuters is reporting the north is doomed for something called a "long-duration snow event." If that sounds to you like "polar vortex that won't stop," you're exactly right.

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Meanwhile, the parched folks on the West Coast risk being literally washed away after Southern California scored an inch of precipitation on Thursday. It was the first time that happened since October 2011, according to AccuWeather. "Rainfall totals will be quite impressive, ranging from 1-3 inches across the coasts and valley to 3-6 inches in the foothills and mountains," the National Weather Service predicts for today and Saturday.

Like a feast for a starving man, it may prove to be too much of a good thing; those foothills communities are on the lookout for mudslides. "We're ready to evacuate with our daughters," one resident told USA Today. In one Los Angeles community, county officials have ordered the mandatory evacuation of 11 residences in mudslide zones. With a quarter of the state under the most dire of drought conditions, a bit of rain is nice — but also something like a drop in an empty bucket. "This is just going to kind of wet the grass for us," a weather service meteorologist told Southern California Public Radio.

And so you ask, "What's with all the extreme weather?" Here's The Onion's answer. Here's the real answer: It's probably because the jet stream was disrupted by unusually warm, wet weather in the Pacific Ocean, according to a report out this month from the UK's Met Office. Basically, the seawater in the Pacific was warmer than usual last year, and it pushed the jet stream north into a windier than usual arctic jet stream called the polar night jet. Moist and frigid, the jet stream then descended back on the Great Lakes region and the Eastern Seaboard, leaving California high and dry, as it were. The jury is out on whether all this has to do with climate change. BuzzFeed, according to its custom, says all of that with pictures.

The takeaway: bundle up, Midwest and East Coast. Reuters says the new arctic blast is going to bring 12-18 inches of snow in some places (probably Pennsylvania) during its west-to-east slog, from St. Louis and Chicago, to Washington and New York and finally up to Boston and Maine (but they're used to it, right?). Portions of I-80 between Sunday and Monday could see snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour, AccuWeather says, and temperatures will be widely divergent. ...Don't shoot the messenger.

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