California on the Verge of its Driest January on Record

Folsom Lake. Photo by Simon Hurry.

As we entered into the New Year, Everything was grand in Northern California. Historic rain and snow drenched the region with optimism pertaining to ongoing drought conditions. Mountain locals were digging themselves out of 10-foot snow walls and nearby lakes were filling at an astonishing rate.

Then, January arrived.

Since the historic DEEPcember snowstorms and rain showers, California has gone completely dry. In fact, weather models are currently showing little to no precipitation through the end of the month, making this month possibly the driest January on record.

January is typically the rainiest season in California, just edging out December, February and April. In the Bay Area, approximately 4 to 6.5 inches of rain falls on the region during the month. Even during the past two years of extreme drought, the region received and average of 2.5 inches of rain. This year, it’s around zero.

It’s a far cry from the precipitation riches of December, when Sierra snowpack grew to 200 percent of normal for that time of year and a record breaking 214 inches of snow fell at U.C. Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab on Donner Summit. By mid-December, Sacramento had already surpassed it’s rainfall for the entire previous water year.

Now, the averages have returned to normal as areas of Northern California retreat into further drought problems. The last time California received zero precipitation in January was 2015, a year of severe drought.

Of course, there is still plenty of time over the current water year for a continued onslaught of precipitation. Time to start rain dancing, NorCal.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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