California’s wet December provided some relief the drought in parts of northern California, but the rainy windfall did not last into January. The “ridiculously resilient ridge” made a comeback this month, providing sunny, dry weather for western North America, and snowy cold for the east.
San Francisco is on track to see its first January with no measurable precipitation since records began in 1850. The previous record-driest January for the city was just last year, when 0.06 inches of rain fell.
Sacramento also seems likely to record its driest January this year, with just 0.01 inches of rain thus far, which fell back on Jan. 19. The previous driest January on record in Sacramento was in 2007, when 0.07 inches was recorded.
Year over year, reservoir levels are down across Northern California. Shasta Lake’s storage level is now just 23 percent of what it was before the drought began in 2012.
This winter’s snowfall doesn’t look like it will provide much water come spring. Sierra snowpack is running just 25 percent of normal in terms of liquid water equivalent, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Mountain snowpack serves the California central valley and coastal areas as winter water storage, holding water in the form of snow until the spring months when it melts and fills reservoirs.
Los Angeles has received 1.21 inches of rain so far this month, but a despite its relative precipitation boom, Sierra snowpack to the east is pitifully low. Just 4.4 inches of liquid water is stored in the snow at Mammoth Pass, an amount that is similar to last year, and the driest year on record for the location — 20 inches below normal.
“It’s a little sad looking today,” Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Michelle Figueroa told The Huffington Post. “We’re hoping there’s going to be an uptick, and there’s been some snowfall we’re anticipating, but of course none of that can be entirely predictable. For now, we continue to push for [water] conservation.”
The Climate Prediction Center expects the drought to intensify or persist through April across Northern California.
Precipitation so far this month:
Sacramento — 0.01 inches (normal 3.59 inches)
San Francisco — 0 inches (normal 4.05 inches)
San Jose — 0.02 inches (normal 2.7 inches)
Los Angeles — 1.21 inches (normal 2.43 inches)