Drought conditions expected to continue through March

Area stuck between el Nino and la Nina conditions, little rain expected

A weather station at the Danville library showed the lowest rainfall in recent years, with just 5.87 inches of rain recorded in 2013, and 2.9 inches of rain since October, the start of the rainy season.

Mark Strudley, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who studies rainfall and flooding, said the area is stuck between el Nino and la Nina conditions.

"Right now, we're in no man's land," Strudley said. "We're right between those two zones of confidence."

El Nino conditions are rising slightly and would normally bring rain to Northern California, but the forecaster said they're not increasing enough to bring a significant amount of rain.

Being trapped between el Nino and la Nina may in part account for the larger-than-normal number of "Winter Spare the Air" alerts called for recent days.

Rainfall tracking for the Danville area only goes back to 2008, but local airports have been recording rainfall amounts since mid-1999. Tracking at the Concord airport puts the average rainfall at 15.16 inches, with 4.5 inches of rain reported there in 2013. Before then, the lowest amount recorded was in 2007, with 9.37 inches.

A weather station atop Mount Diablo recorded 6.56 inches of rain in 2013, more than 2 inches less that the previous record of 8.91 inches set in 1976. The normal average is more than 25 inches.

Dry conditions there may account for the rapid spread of a Sept. 8 fire that burned more than 3,100 acres.

San Ramon also received the lowest rainfall in recent years, with just 3.41 inches recorded at the nearest weather station in Dublin during 2013, and 1.59 inches since October.

Even though this is the rainy season, Strudley said not to expect conditions to change in the immediate future.

"There's a slight chance that we may get some rain Wednesday night, but that's going to be light," he said.

The NOAA is predicting drought conditions for much of the West through March.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tony
a resident of Diablo
on Jan 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm

We are in a heap of trouble, folks. Conserve water as best you can. We may be in for some draconian restrictions come this summer. If you know any good rain dances, do them.

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