All day I’ve faced the barren waste
With out the taste of water… cool, water.
Ole Dan and I, with throats burned dry,
and souls that cry
for water… cool, clear water.
Vaughn Monroe/ Sons of the Pioneers – COOL WATER (1948) RCA Victor Records
It was bound to happen you know, we got off to a good start for the water year (July 1 through June 30) In October 2012, Santa Rosa received 1.48 inches of rain, fairly normal for that month. We were looking rosy as copious amounts of rain fell in November, 8.42, and December 9.86 in, well above monthly averages.
The sprinkler system has been shut off in 2013 which has led to the seventh driest January on record at 1.16in., and February, the third driest on record at 0.26 as of Monday the 25th, 2013.
One would have to go back to 1952-53 to find the February record at 0.08. Even the drought years of the mid 70’s, February collected more rain. If you remember how dry 1976-77 was, raise your hand.
The reservoirs are looking good of course, Lake’s Mendocino and Sonoma are over 100 percent of storage, Lake Pillsbury at around three-quarters full, lower because of anticipated spring snow melt.
Year to Date, we are at 21.18, the normal YTD is 23.51, according to Press Democrat weather archives.
A look back at previous years, total rainfall is a mixed bag (maybe a little pattern developing; Two wet years followed by three dry years?). After last years abnormally dry year, are we facing incipient drought conditions?
The graphics below were released last Thursday (Feb. 21) and paint a somewhat worrisome picture, especially if you raise cattle or feed.
“So!” you say, “What about a Miracle March?”
Don’t get too exited. According to the Climate Prediction Center, there is a 50-60 percent chance that March, April and May will see below average precipitation. And folks, these forecasters have a good batting percentage when it comes to their predictions.
The Miracle March phenomena was coined largely in 1991 when 13.74 inches of rain fell, that after several years of drought. Looking through the archives, I found the 1983 March (El-Nino year) at 15.94 inches, the 1995 March-another El-Nino year- 11.52 inches; 1989, 10.22 inches and 2011, 10.44 inches. These figures are the extreme of course. In March of 2012, Santa Rosa received nearly eight inches, which saved us from having a bone dry year, even though we were nearly 10 inches below normal. NorCal doesn’t need a miracle, it just needs normal rainfall in March to put us nearly even.
What about the rest of the country? The graphic says it all.