Unusual Weather Produces Record Low Rainfall in the Bay Area for 2013

December 31, 2013 8:00 am · 25 comments

Bay Area cities are setting the lowest levels of rainfall in recorded history this year as unusual conditions are blocking moisture from the Pacific Ocean, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

A weather system from the Pacific that typically carries dampness south from the Pacific Northwest in October has not developed this season, leading to record-low rainfall levels, according to forecaster Bob Benjamin.

Rainfall for December should be about several inches in Bay Area cities but “we’re just getting piddling amounts,” Benjamin said.

“Most places are in the quarter-of-an-inch range.”

Although the weather service does not keep rainfall numbers for the entire Bay Area, “for all the sites we maintain climate records, this is the lowest calendar year for rainfall amounts” for the area, Benjamin said.

“Everyone is going to be reporting very, very low, record low amounts,” Benjamin said.

With only a day to go in 2013, the city of San Francisco, which started recording rainfall 164 years ago, has had only 5.57 inches of rain since January, far below the city’s record low 9 inches in 1917, Benjamin said.

“We’re not talking short-term records,” Benjamin said.

A high pressure “ridge” in the eastern Pacific Ocean that usually fluctuates and permits the passage of moist air into the Bay Area is for some reason more intense and blocking the air from moving south, Benjamin said.

“It’s a unique weather pattern,” Benjamin said.

The lack of moisture-filled air is also producing warmer than normal temperatures during the day and cooler than normal temperatures at night in the Bay Area, Benjamin said.

Normally this month Bay Area temperatures in the daytime are in the mid to lower 50s to lower 60s but highs have been in the 60s to lower 70s, while overnight lows that should be in the mid to low 40s have fallen below that, Benjamin said.

But weather patterns contributing to the high-pressure ridge may be changing and some rainfall is possible by next Tuesday or Wednesday, based on the weather service’s models for rainfall, he said.

The dry weather has also affected snow levels in the Lake Tahoe area, Benjamin said.

According to the today’s snow report from the Lake Tahoe area on the website onthesnow.com, all 13 of the ski resorts listed reported no snowfall for at least the past three days.

At the Squaw Valley resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., no snow has fallen for the last seven days but the resort had a snow base of 19 inches at 6,200 feet and 21 inches at 8,200 feet as of 2 p.m. today, according to the resort’s website.

Liesl Kenney, spokeswoman for the Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, said since the resort has not had snowfall recently it has been using “cutting edge technology” machines to spray man-made snow on its slopes.

“Almost every night when the temperatures are low enough we are doing as much snowmaking as possible,” Kenney said.

Seventy-three percent of the snow terrain at the resort, which has sides in both Nevada and California, is covered with man-made snow which has “really the same consistency and quality of the natural snow,” Kenney said.

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1 Living in Claycord December 31, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Climate change? Nah, doesn’t really exist because we would have to believe in science.

2 Ted K., SuperMax December 31, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Drought conditions are cyclical. Get used to it.

The media will of course hype it to the maximum.

Following the BAAQMD’s lead, CCWD and EBMUD will likely place water restrictions and ban all landscape irrigation, car washes, and issuance of new swimming pool permits. Existing swimming pools will be required to have a cover to reduce evaporation.

3 The Mamba December 31, 2013 at 8:42 AM

If we could have wood fires, people would be snowboarding and skiing like crazy right now.

4 anon December 31, 2013 at 8:48 AM

just got $250 rebate for putting in water conserve toilets. they work great! no they are not like the ones we had about 20 years ago. you got to get yours done too. you’ll thank me later.
i do like the kohler better than the am. standard of the ones i put in.
and i’ve been replacing plants w/ drought tolerant ones. figuring its only a matter of time before theres a water shortage and lawns are left to die.

5 Anne Lavitz December 31, 2013 at 9:35 AM

This is strange weather-another dry “storm” is coming from the west. Drought conditions may stand for this coming year.

6 Captain Bebops December 31, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Could possibly rain from mid January through March. We’ve seen that before and it dampened the spirits of the water stasi.

7 The Mamba December 31, 2013 at 9:51 AM

The end is nigh, prepare yourselves and act accordingly!

8 Incognito December 31, 2013 at 10:08 AM

@Anon #4
Yes, the new toilets are very efficient! 1.6 gallons per flush, I also like Kohler.

And, following the old saying (at home) “If it’s yellow it’s mellow, if it is brown, flush it down” is something we should all be following all the time here in California.

9 Dorothy December 31, 2013 at 10:35 AM

I wouldn’t mind if we got at least some “piddling amounts” of rain.

We need to hire new rain dancers.

10 KAD December 31, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Low flush toilets are terrible. I have to flush several times to get them to “flush”. They waste water not save water. Concord is going to require that they be installed with any new permits starting in Jan 2014. I wish I had my bathroom remodel completed prior to the new requirements being put into place.

11 Concord Mike December 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM

California is prone to years with serious droughts and massive floods. Rainfall averages are just averages of these extremes.

Two factors are contributing to the current drought. Weaker than normal zonal westerly flow and stronger than normal cold core high pressure over the Rockies. Simple as that. Those blaming this natural dry spell on “climate change” have no scientific evidence to offer.

12 Global warming December 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM

It’s Al’s fault.

13 Random Task December 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM

uhhh try again …..the water on the planet controls the weather the reason we are having a lack of rain with a high pressure ridge is the radiation has reached the coast line from the reactor meltdown dolphins and several other species are being recorded with high amounts of radiation form said meltdown and it is going to get worse ……………not better

14 Towman December 31, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Just Blame George Bush. It’s all Georgie’s fault.

15 #1 NRA fan and member December 31, 2013 at 1:22 PM

It’s a plot by PG&E and CCCWD to make more $$$… look up “HAARP”…

16 Teacher Wannabe December 31, 2013 at 2:53 PM

And there are those who say extreme global climate change is a hoax…riiiight!

17 Shuley December 31, 2013 at 4:53 PM

The uneducated and uninformed will keep denying climate change is real even though we continue to set record after record regarding weather patterns. Record low rainfall. Record high temperatures. Record storm strength and frequencies.

If this drought is a result of “normal cycles”, than explain: “With only a day to go in 2013, the city of San Francisco, which started recording rainfall 164 years ago, has had only 5.57 inches of rain since January, far below the city’s record low 9 inches in 1917″

That is SHATTERING an almost 100 year old record. That’s far beyond “cyclical”.

18 @ Shuley December 31, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Actually, the un gullable keep denying global warming. Fun tho’ that now that there is record cold, you and the other “warmists” are now touting “change” instead of heat.

Not that long ago the experts warned of global cooling. The only constant with weather is change and no one can predict weather with any sort of consistent accuracy past a few days.

But do keep talking up global change so everyone can see what you for what you are.

19 Anon December 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

“Not that long ago the experts warned of global cooling” Link please.

20 Ice Age January 1, 2014 at 9:26 AM

To all the global warming, excuse me, climate change soothsayers, please explain the disappearance of the ice age, if you don’t believe the earth has a cyclical pattern of weather.
Mastodon methane or early man’ s campfires?

21 Ice Age January 1, 2014 at 9:37 AM
22 Ice Age January 1, 2014 at 9:42 AM

@ Anon #19

Please note Obama’s EPA like attitude in the yellow highlighted section of the article.

23 Antler January 1, 2014 at 10:16 AM

#20….. The entire point is that humans should do everything we possibly can NOT to make things worse. Scientific data does show that human activity has made the warming rate proceed far more rapidly now. As you know, other major cyclical changes were initiated by volcanic eruptions, meteor strikes, etc.. I apologize for not providing primary sources……have done so on previous occasions, so this time those interested can run searches to recognized SCIENTIFIC sources for themselves.

24 Ice Age January 1, 2014 at 2:44 PM

@ Antler #23

I am not arguing that we are not having an effect on the earth’s environment. I disagree with the extent claimed that we enact virtual draconian measures based upon it. The falsified records and misinformation that the pro-global warming scientists promoted do not do much for me to accept their “SCIENTIFIC” claims. There is genuine scientific debate presently going on as to whether we are cooling or warming.

The last ice age end due to a shift in the earth’s orbit resulting in the ice caps of the poles causing a rise in co2. It had nothing to due with any of the natural disasters you mention.

The correctional measures I would like to see are not to play the political games of Solar, hazardous waste compact fluorescent lamps and electric cars. Politically, Solar has been an extravagant waste of time, effort and money, not that the possibilities are not there. Saving energy costs that are rising do to the EPA regulation and associated government regulations are not, in my opinion, enough to put the new millennium version of lead paint into every occupied place we enter. How are the electric cars manufactured and what about disposal of the caustic batteries?

For my part, we need to stop the deforestation of the Amazon and other areas of the world. Look at what happened to Madagascar. We are destroying the some of the most valuable farm land in the world in central California because we value the small species of fish that get caught up in the irrigation pumps. The plant life that would be both spared and increased thrives on co2 to create the oxygen we need to live.

25 Antler January 1, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Ice Age at #24 ~ ~ ~ Yes, I agree about the deforestation (unless replanting practices are implemented, and you and I know that’s seldom being done). Re the “shift in Earth’s ORBIT”: I have not read about that, but I do know that there have been changes in Earth’s magnetic poles with the results you mentioned. (* And that sort of thing would fall under my use of the convenient “etc.” in my previous comment.) “Draconian measures” are really a mere nothing when one keeps the goal in sight…..saving all kinds of life forms here on planet Earth.

Having solar water heaters did a whole lot to lower my husband’s and my energy bill, especially during the years the three children were still at home. However, long after they went out on their own, some of the solar heaters’ pipes and parts finally corroded through, and we decided not to replace the panels. (We were figuring up-front cost vs projected savings with only two of us here.) The more energy costs continue to rise, we are considering installing new panels with the idea that it would be a “plus” both now and upon resale.

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