Wet start mitigates dry spell
More rainfall expected this week in many areas; February unclear
By TIM HEARDEN
SACRAMENTO -- Most areas in northern and central California are still ahead of their seasonal average rainfall totals despite a mostly dry January.
For prolonged stretches, chilly nights gave way to warm afternoons as dry periods that lasted a week or more were punctuated by a few gentle showers. Most streams and reservoirs remained flush from the winter's extraordinarily wet start, however.
Redding recorded less than an inch of rain in a month in which it normally receives nearly 6 inches, but its 20.09 inches of rain since July 1 is still ahead of its average of 19.72 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
More rainfall was expected this week in many areas, but whether a wet pattern will regain a hold over California in February is unclear, said Kathy Hoxsie, a weather service warning coordinator in Oxnard, Calif.
"I think it's still a little bit early for a transition (into spring), but this has been such an odd winter," Hoxsie said, noting that the West Coast has remained stuck between El Niño and La Niña oceanic weather patterns.
"We still have an excellent chance to get some precipitation in February and into March," she said. "After that, it'll be a question of how unusual the patterns are as well."
A low-pressure trough that exited Northern California earlier in the month has lingered over the Great Basin, bringing behind it a high-pressure ridge that brought sunny skies and mild daytime temperatures, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service noted.
The ridge was expected to move through this week, improving the prospects for more rain.
"There's still a lot of good, cold air to the north that, if it moved through at just the right angle, could end up with a trough over the top of us," Hoxsie said. "Then you're talking about prolonged precipitation over Northern California."
However, the federal Climate Prediction Center doesn't consider it likely. The center envisions below-normal chances of rainfall through most of the West in the next couple of weeks, with prospects slightly improving later in the month.
Here are the January and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of Dec. 31:
Redding: Month to date 0.95 inches (normal 5.96 inches); season to date 20.09 inches (normal 19.72 inches)
Eureka: Month to date 2.57 inches (normal 6.5 inches); season to date 23.4 inches (normal 23.55 inches)
Sacramento: Month to date 0.96 inches (normal 3.64 inches); season to date 12.25 inches (normal 10.26 inches)
Modesto: Month to date 1.27 inches (normal 2.62 inches); season to date 7.15 inches (normal 6.97 inches)
Salinas: Month to date 1.04 inches (normal 2.6 inches); season to date 7.65 inches (normal 6.71 inches)
Fresno: Month to date 0.58 inches (normal 2.19 inches); season to date 3.97 inches (normal 5.85 inches)