California gets respite from rain, snow
By TIM HEARDEN
RED BLUFF, Calif. -- The new year is bringing at least a brief respite to most of the Golden State after a wet December.
The pattern that's brought lots of valley rain and mountain snow every few days should continue, though shifting lows could push the brunt of storms into Southern California, said Kathy Hoxsie, a National Weather Service warning coordinator in Oxnard, Calif.
"We'll still get some precipitation up north, but the stronger storms are coming through Southern California in January as opposed to Northern California in December," Hoxsie said. "It will probably be colder because of that. The farther south that low goes, it pulls the cold air farther south."
North state farmers and ranchers are hoping the rain doesn't stop completely, as it did for two months last winter. The federal Climate Prediction Center envisions lower-than-normal chances of precipitation in much of the state over the next month.
The respite comes after December storms pushed seasonal precipitation totals in most of California well above normal. Since July 1, Redding has sopped up 19.16 inches of rain compared to its normal amount of 13.95 inches, while Modesto has seen 5.88 inches so far this season compared to its normal 4.44 inches, according to the weather service.
The state's major reservoirs had 109 percent of the water they normally hold at this time of year as of Jan. 2, according to the state Department of Water Resources. And California had 134 percent of its normal snow water content as of Jan. 2, the agency reported. The abundance of snow has been evenly distributed throughout northern and southern mountain regions, according to the agency.
The robust fall and early winter has kept the Golden State's rangelands replenished with at least enough moisture to get through the winter. Much of Northern California emerged from drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
As a result of this year's improved conditions, livestock on grass have required less supplemental feed, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service has reported.
Meanwhile, several cold nights in the San Joaquin Valley in the last month have prompted citrus growers to run water and wind machines to keep their orchard temperatures up. Those precautions are likely this month as cold nights persist.
The weather systems continued to benefit the condition of small grains crops, which were rated mostly good to excellent, according to NASS. The cold and rain haven't hindered harvests of various winter crops, including late-variety table grapes, apples, citrus fruit and various vegetables, NASS reported.
Here are the December 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 10.04 inches (normal 6.27 inches); season to date 19.16 inches (normal 13.76 inches)
Eureka: Month to date 10.97 inches (normal 8.12 inches); season to date 20.83 inches (normal 17.05 inches)
Sacramento: Month to date 6.15 inches (normal 3.25 inches); season to date 11.29 inches (normal 6.62 inches)
Modesto: Month to date 4.03 inches (normal 2.04 inches); season to date 5.88 inches (normal 4.36 inches)
Salinas: Month to date 3.32 inches (normal 1.93 inches); season to date 7.75 inches (normal 4.11 inches)
Fresno: Month to date 2.03 inches (normal 1.77 inches); season to date 3.39 inches (normal 3.66 inches)