Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011-12: The year without a winter?

In May, all the rain we were getting caused me to speculate that we would skip summer this past year. Now it seems we're in the process of moving from late fall right into early spring, having come through one of the driest Decembers on record and seeing no appreciable rain on the horizon.

My wife and I just spent a week in Monterey and Santa Cruz and many people said the weather there was comparable to summer. The Boardwalk was packed on New Year's Eve day as the temperature approached 70 degrees.

Former Record Searchlight weather guru Scott Mobley wasn't too concerned about the dry spell a few weeks ago, but now apparently he is.

Here are some numbers.

December rainfall
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 0.38 inches (normal 6.27 inches); season to date 6.33 inches (normal 13.76 inches)
Eureka: Month to date 2.22 inches (normal 8.12 inches); season to date 10.87 inches (normal 17.05 inches)
Sacramento: Month to date 0.27 inches (normal 3.25 inches); season to date 2.35 inches (normal 6.62 inches)
Modesto: Month to date 0.16 inches (normal 2.04 inches); season to date 1.88 inches (normal 4.36 inches)
Salinas: Month to date 0.01 inches (normal 1.93 inches); season to date 3.31 inches (normal 4.11 inches)
Fresno: Month to date 0 inches (normal 1.77 inches); season to date 1.57 inches (normal 3.66 inches)

Reservoir levels
Here are the percentages of capacity for California reservoirs as of midnight Jan. 2, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center:
Trinity Lake: 79 percent
Shasta Lake: 68 percent
Lake Oroville: 72 percent
New Bullards Bar Reservoir: 66 percent
Folsom Lake: 42 percent
New Melones Reservoir: 82 percent
Millerton Lake: 64 percent
Pine Flat Reservoir: 56 percent
Lake Isabella: 29 percent
San Luis Reservoir: 95 percent

Here are average snow water equivalents and comparisons to normal for the date in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center. Totals are as of Jan. 3:
North: 2 inches, 21 percent of normal
Central: 2 inches, 13 percent of normal
South: 3 inches, 29 percent of normal
Statewide: 2 inches, 19 percent of normal

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