Is 2023 Bay Area's worst storm season? Here's what experts say

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Is this Bay Area's worst storm season? Here's what experts say
It certainly appears that Bay Area has seen one of the busiest storm seasons in 2023, but was it our worst? Here's what experts say.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It certainly appears that 2023 has been one of the busiest storm seasons that we have ever seen in the Bay Area, but was it our worst?

When talking about the almost constant storms across the Bay Area in 2023, stop me if you've heard someone you know say something like this before:

"This is the worst I've ever seen it, ever."

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Or maybe:

"It's never been like this."

In some cases, these statements are true and we've seen our share of records fall.

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With one month remaining in the state's rainy season, the Sierra snowpack is nearing the all-time record set in 1982 and 1983. San Francisco saw the coldest record low on Feb. 24 this year, the coldest since 1891. As far as Bay Area-wide, 2022 and 2023 has brought the highest precipitation in the winter months in the last decade.

VIDEO: Here's a look at what the Sierra faced as snow buried homes, cars

It is an absolute mess in the Sierra with homes and cars buried in snow and an avalanche that slammed into a building in Olympic Valley in Tahoe.

However, San Jose State Department of Meteorology and Climate Science professor Alison Bridger says it's not quite a "never-ever" kind of year.

"After three or four dry years in a row here, suddenly it's raining like crazy and people have no idea if that's normal, usual or what," prof. Bridger said. "Just looking at the records, it is kind of usual."

But, what's unusual are some of the devastating impacts from these storms.

ABC7 News uses an ABC7 Exclusive Storm Impact Scale showcasing what the region will see from each storm.

ABC7 News weather anchor Spencer Christian says our scale has never recorded higher impact numbers than this year and that may make the community see these storms as worse than what records may indicate.

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"When we have a series of heavy rain like we've had, it causes more flooding, more mudslides and more downed trees," Christian said. "All those impacts that typically would not have happened in a normal winter season."

Extreme impacts during extreme weather are characteristics of climate change.

National Weather Service S.F. Bay Area science and operations officer Warren Blier says that might be what's to blame for this winter season, but explains we don't know for sure for now.

"If we start to see more frequent occurrence of years like this one, more frequent occurrence of more extreme years, that would point to climate change," Blier said.

But for now, this extreme year shows signs that it's not quite over yet.

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