California’s iconic redwoods may not really mind (and generally benefit from) the repeated deluges of rain pummeling California, snakes — especially those that live or hid underground — certainly do. “Rapidly rising flood water from heavy rain can displace wildlife, including rattlesnakes,” Bryan Hughes, owner of Arizona-based snake rescue service Rattlesnake Solutions, told Newsweek, but the colder temperatures will likely slow the cold-blooded reptiles.
Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, makes extreme precipitation events worse and more frequent and makes precipitation more likely to fall as rain instead of snow, increasing the risk of dangerous flooding and depriving regions of future water released by melting snowpack. The atmospheric rivers deluging California, which have already killed at least 19 people, are likely “just a modest preview of what’s to come” as climate pollution continues to increase global temperatures, the Washington Post reports.
So far this year, however, the massive onslaught of precipitation has included substantial amounts of snow, and multiple regions of the Sierra Nevada have more than double the amount of snow normal for this date and even more than they normally have on April 1. While the heavy snowpack likely won’t end the state’s drought crisis, it doesn’t hurt either. “It’s still unlikely that we’re going to get completely out of this drought in a single year,” Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, told the Mercury News. “But if the storm door stays open… we can put a serious dent in it.”
(Redwoods: New York Times $; Snakes: Newsweek; Deaths: LA Times $, San Francisco Chronicle; Climate exacerbating atmospheric rivers: Washington Post $, LA Times $, USA Today; Snowpack: Mercury News, KTLA, KCRA, San Francisco Chronicle; Drought implications: LA Times $, Washington Post $, CBS, New York Times $, CBS; Climate Signals background: Atmospheric river change, Rain instead of snow, Drought)