California’s very dry winter to continue through the first half of Jaunary

Filed in Uncategorized by on January 2, 2012 130 Comments

One of the defining characteristics of California’s Mediterranean climate are its well-defined wet and dry seasons–corresponding to meteorological winter and summer, respectively. One can almost always expect a bone-dry summer outside of occasional summer thunderstorms in the higher mountains, and increasingly heavy winter rains and mountain snows beginning some time during the late fall or very early winter.

The observed weather in 2011, however, didn’t follow these time-honored expectations. The rainy season in Northern California lasted until early July, and fresh snow on the ground greeted July 4th revelers in the Sierra Nevada. The wet season seemed to be getting off to a respectable start, with a fairly strong system bringing significant rain and wind in mid-October. After a few more minor precipitation events in early November, though, the proverbial spigot shut off abruptly in Northern California. In Southern California, an unusual series of “outside slider”-type systems brought some significant (and in some cases anomalously heavy) rainfall to coastal areas through November. By the beginning of December, however, even the outside sliders tapered off, and December 2011 turned out to be one of the driest Decembers on record for almost the entire state. In fact, most of the state (with the singular exception of the far northwestern corner) received essentially no precipiation at all–and what little did fall was hydrologically insignificant.

(National Weather Service/NOAA)

The question, of course, is how long this present very prolonged dry spell will continue. The answer, in short, is that it will last at least another 1-2 weeks. There are not, at present, any compelling indications of a major longwave pattern shift in the near future. In fact, it appears that the persistent East Pacific ridge will strengthen in the coming days, bringing balmy conditions to much of California with continued dry and stable weather. The MJO–which in most winters is a fairly significant indicator of impending westerly jet incursions–appears to be rather unimportant this year in forcing pattern changes (which is not extremely surprising given prevailing La Nina conditions).

Day 12 GFS, 500 mb heights

(NCEP)

The only interesting feature in the extended forecast models at the moment is some early indication of a potential retrogression of the ultra-persistent block over the Pacific. If this actually does occur, it could shift the mean trough axis towards the West Coast, though because flow would be highly meridional and northerly over California conditions could become dramatically colder and unsettled but ultimately result in little precipitation due to the cold continental origins of the source airmass. In any case, this possible development is still far in the future–and extremely dry patterns such as the present one are notoriously persistent. For now, we can only hope that the pattern in early 2012 becomes more promising than the one that closed out 2011…

© 2011 WEATHER WEST

  • redlands

    I hope this no rain streak ends – and we get rain

  • Dan the Weatherman

    I just wanted to say that a few coastal locations of southern California did receive some rainfall during the first half of December, but it was below the long-term average, and central and northern California has definitely been bone-dry. The second half of December has been rather dry down here as well. Here are a few totals from around the state for December 2011:

    Downtown Los Angeles: 1.01″
    Santa Barbara: 1.09″
    Fullerton Airport (Orange County): .71″
    San Diego (Lindbergh Field): .86″
    Paso Robles: .07″
    Downtown San Francisco: .14″
    Napa Airport: .16″
    Eureka: 2.22″ – That is nearly 6″ below normal!

    We desperately need to get into a wetter weather pattern to build up the snow pack in the Sierras, to improve ski conditions in all mountains, and to bring needed lowland rain to the rest of the state.

    • redlands

      Dan — are these stats — that is rainfall totals for the whole month of December 2011 — If so thats not good — San Francisco having less rain than Redlands, Ca — At my station i only got 0.29 of rain —- During the month of December i dont have to water my lawn — this December i had to turn on sprinklers — my lawn was looking so dry — driest ive ever seen it — didnt have a choice — had to water to stop any more damage.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Redlands, those stats are for the month of December, 2011, and they were taken from the NWS F-6 forms found in the climate data section of each NWS Forecast Office in the area.

        It has been incredibly dry in San Francisco and I believe it is even more rare for them to be dry like this than it is for us down here in Socal. They are definitely due for some rain soon!

  • sc100

    Last year in Sacramento we had the year without a summer and now we have the year without a winter. Very odd, indeed.

  • Tom in San Diego

    “Odd” seems to be our lot for weather enough to not be odd at all.

  • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

    This is a sorry pattern, though after a few surprisingly wet years we’re overdue for a dry one. It also has been very devoid of snow in Vermont, though it finally got cold. It’s about 7 out right now and got near zero last night

  • alan

    the VERY end of the GFS-LR is VERY exciting for socal! LOL

    Just don’t keep us stringing along for weeks, bring it into the close range!

  • Nicholas

    If the 12z was right Winter would be canceled for the West Coast. It’s that bad.

    • alan

      grrrrr, it’ll come back!!

  • redlands

    At my station — this is the 31-st January ive recorded — So far ive never had a January go completely dry — almost went completely dry when i recorded 0.03 of rain in January 2003 — Ive looked at my records — its possible that we could go the next 6 months January-June with about only an inch of rain — not good .. This 80-plus weather is nice but its drying everything out — would rather have this in the mioddle of Summer.

  • Shady Blues

    Are we in winter or summer? It sure feels like summer!

    • Shady Blues

      Its cooking outside…90.0 °F

      • sc100

        Holy Crap! I can’t imagine 90 degrees in early January.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The $64,000 question is when will it rain again in California with snow in the Sierras, and I don’t mean a marine layer drizzle event or a few scattered light showers from an inside slider, but a full fledged storm system that comes off the Pacific and makes a direct hit on the state. Even in La Nina and -PDO, this should happen at least a few times per season and it has happened in the last few years. It seems that storms are avoiding CA, especially Norcal and the Sierras, to the point that it is getting ridiculous.

    There seems to be no rain in sight even in Norcal for the next 1-2 weeks, and if that comes to pass, then it would mean that downtown San Francisco has only picked up .14″ in just over 7 weeks and the Sierras have been deprived of snow for the same length of time! That has to be some sort of record, and something tells me this extreme dryness up there can’t continue for the rest of the winter.

    • sc100

      What’s really tough is that with most of January now a bust, we’ll have to have a blockbuster February and March in Norcal just to have a chance at hitting average for the year. I’ve been in Norcal for about 30 years now and couldn’t remember such a dry Nov – Jan time period. So I checked the records and found that in the 160-year period of record keeping in Sacramento there have only been two rain seasons where there has been less than an inch of rain in each of the months of Nov, Dec and Jan, which is what we’re on track to do now. The last time it happened was in 1975-1976, WHICH WAS THE DRIEST YEAR WE’VE EVER HAD! We still had a little over 7 inches that year, so eventually something has to come but it still might not be that much.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    There’s a lot of variability in model fantasyland at the moment (more than usual, that is), but I’m starting to see some indications of a large-scale pattern shift late during week 2 (the latest 18z GFS is an example of this). The PNA and AO may be trying to go significantly negative for the first time in quite a while. Also…there is a lot of very cold air bottled up over the Yukon and the rest of western Canada, so if we can indeed get a retrogression of the mean trough in the next couple of weeks then we could be in for some very cold and unsettled conditions during the second half of January. In the meantime–I have very high confidence that bone dry and balmy conditions will continue for the next 10 days.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      If the AO and PNA go negative soon, that should definitely be good news for us. The +PNA has helped to keep the blocking ridge just off the coast of CA, probably along with other factors such as La Nina. The major indices (NAO, AO, and PNA) have all been positive as of late, keeping the Arctic air bottled far to the north, and as a result, most of the continental U.S. has been milder than average this fall and early winter.

  • Ken K.

    I remember the 75-76 and 76-77 seasons, very dry. I know we can get these long dry spells here in the Southland, but Nor cal is very unusual. The cold air up north wants to come south, and with the AO and NAO tending towards negative, we might just get a storm or two, this boring pattern has to change. It has been in the mid 80′s during the day and 50′s at night at the house. Feels more like September. Come on Storms…

  • Tom in San Diego

    Ken, ’76 or 77 was when we had TS Kathleen in September. That was the swan song for the SD&AE RR as I recall, it never quite recovered from that. I was away most of that winter though ferrying Marines between Kwajalien and Okinawa.

  • Shady Blues

    I hope that this January does not turn out like the January 2007…Rainless month…

  • Tom in San Diego

    We do this hand wringing drill every January dry spell. It’ll rain, one of these days but worrying about it isn’t going to bring it any faster..

    • Dan the Weatherman

      That’s true, but it is a more serious situation this year due to the extreme lack of snow in the Sierras, but at least the lakes and reservoirs still have plenty of water from last year’s big storms. The whole state is in need of rain and mountain snow, especially the northern half.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The latest NWS San Diego AFD is finally indicating a possible pattern change beginning late next week:

    DRY AND MILD THROUGH THE MOST OF NEXT WEEK UNDER WEAK HIGH PRESSURE AND NW FLOW ALOFT. MODELS ARE SUGGESTING A CHANGE MAY BE IN THE WORKS BY THE END OF NEXT WEEK WITH MORE FLOW BREAKING UNDER THE EAST PACIFIC RIDGE. THIS MAY BE THE FIRST SIGNS OF A RETURN TO A WETTER PATTERN FOR THE SECOND HALF OF JANUARY.

    This is the first AFD in quite a while that has mentioned any possibility of wet weather in the long range, and I have been reading many CA NWS office AFDs in the last week or two, eagerly waiting for any possible pattern change to get CA back into a wet weather pattern.

  • Ken K.

    Tom it was 76 for Kathleen, remember it well, a lot of flash flooding on the east slopes, took I-8 as well as the RR. Then it was pretty much dry after that. I worked up North around Eureka. Rivers were very low that winter up there, I would come down occasionally and it was dry, fire season started in April 1977. Looks like their will be a pattern change in the next 1 to 2 weeks, and we should get some rain.

    • Tom in San Diego

      I thought it was 76. Thanks for memory reboot!

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Not one CA NWS office AFD discussion from Sacramento southward issued tonight has mentioned the idea of the potential pattern change leading to a wetter pattern later in the month. The San Diego discussion was the only one I read earlier today that mentioned it, but the other afternoon discussions may have mentioned it.

    It looks as if another strong, but short-lived Santa Ana wind event will occur late Saturday night into Sunday. I am just hoping that no brush fires break out during this wind event. I am not usually worried about fires this time of year, but because it has been so warm and dry lately and no significant rain has fallen in the area since December 12-13, there is some potential this time for it to happen.

    • Tom in San Diego

      Some kind of brush fire the other day out east, didn’t watch the news, but saw some smoke in
      the early afternoon.

      • Ken K.

        Hi Tom,
        They were doing a couple controlled burns, one south of Pine Valley the other but on Mt. Laguna. Burning well for this time of the year.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain
    • Nicholas

      Amazing to see Jeffmasters talk about something besides hurricanes for once.

      • David

        what do you mean by that?

        • Nicholas

          Most of the time
          Jeffmasters only talks about tropical storms no matter what season it is.

          • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

            He posts about climate a lot!

  • Dan the Weatherman

    This is from the SFO NWS AFD (9:55 a.m. this morning):

    THERE AFTER…NO RAIN IN SIGHT WITH OUR DRY STREAK CONTINUING. IN
    FACT…THE LATEST MEDIUM MODELS KEEP HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE WEST. 00Z ECMWF 240 HR SHOWS A 582 DAM RIDGE OVER CA. A QUICK LOOK AT THE MJO PHASE DIAGRAMS ALSO SHOW LITTLE IN THE WAY OF CONVECTION.

    This dryness in Norcal is getting absolutely ridiculous, and from reading these AFDs, it doesn’t even look as if a pattern change is even on the horizon, but then again, the models have been struggling mightily for at least a few weeks now.

  • PacificStorm

    Have noticed the GFS and ECMWF’s ensembles showing increased troughing between the 10th – 20th

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    Finally seeing some stronger indications of a possible pattern change beginning as early as day 9. Looks like the ridge will retrograde just enough for the polar and subtropical jets to phase somewhere just west of CA. Depending on placement, this could be quite an active pattern for CA. Interestingly, the 1/7 00z GFS now depicts very heavy subtropical rains over NorCal in the 10-16 day period. Feast or famine? We’ll just have to see…

    • sc100

      Wow, that’s one mean Pineapple Express/Atmospheric River. And those systems look REALLY warm. That would be bad news since the reservoir levels are still high from last year’s snow. I was thinking of the possibility that we could go overboard in the other direction once the pattern changed, especially since it seems like the whole country’s been in extreme weather patterns the last couple years. I won’t start being convinced though until it shows up on day 5. There’s been too much craziness going on.

  • Nicholas

    Models have backed down on bringing a lot of rain to California. Its a much more reasonable solution, still brings some rain.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    There is so much disagreement in the models for the long range that even the NWS meteorologists are almost clueless:

    This morning LA/Oxnard office:

    THE MDLS CONTINUE TO DIVERGE AFTER THAT AND REALLY ITS JUST BETTER TO MAKE LIKE RAY GUY AND PUNT. WILL HOPE FOR SOME SORT AGREEMENT AT THIS TIME TOMORROW.

    SFO this afternoon:

    LOTS OF UNCERTAINTY REMAINS DURING THE EXTENDED FORECAST THANKS TO A WIDE SPREAD OF MODEL SOLUTIONS. CURRENT FORECAST FOR NEXT WILL BE DRY WITH SEASONABLE WEATHER. EVEN THOUGH THERE IS LOTS OF UNCERTAINTY AND LOW CONFIDENCE ON DETAILS NEXT WEEK…ONE THING THE MODELS KEEP SHOW IS A CHANGE IN THE PATTERN DURING THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY. WHAT THAT CHANGE EXACTLY IS IS YET TO BE SEEN. HPC MENTIONED IN THEIR DISCUSSION TO TAKE A MODEL BLEND GIVEN THE LARGE SPREAD OF SOLUTION. AT THIS RATE…IT WILL BE A WAIT AND SEE TYPE OF FORECAST 6-10 DAYS OUT.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    There really is some pretty remarkable variance in model progs right now. Run-to-run consistency beyond day 8 is essentially zero. In the past 4 runs of the GFS, for example, I’ve seen a multi-day period of very heavy subtropical precipitation (0z), a very cold air outbreak over the West Coast with light precipitation (6z), a more generally zonal pattern with unsettled conditions and some rainfall (12z) and now (once again) an entirely dry 2+ week period with the 18z. There may indeed be a pattern change lurking in the 8-10 day period, but it’s unclear exactly what kind of change it will be, and I’m not yet convinced that it will actually occur. Persistence of the powerful ridge over the West Coast is a hard forecast to argue against right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see if some consistency develops over the next few days. I certainly hope the pattern does break very soon, since December and January are usually the most productive precipitation months of the water year, and it will be very hard to make up that kind of deficit…

    • David

      it is becomeing more and more likey that we wont see any rain in tell the 20th oh nos may be even longer then that

      any one no when the was time SAC had no rain at all in JAN?

      • David

        the 00z was dry i like last night 00z the mode runs are all most up too FEB now and still no rain

        this high needs too get lost but then am loveing this be come i like working oh wants too work in the rain no one i think not fun too work in the rain

      • sc100

        Sacramento has never had a January without rain. The driest January was in 2007, where .07 inches fell. So if we didn’t see any rain at all this month it would truly be a once in a lifetime event.

        • David

          thanks

          • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

            Yeah, the models have been all over. Here in Vermont we were looking at a rain storm this Thursday, then nothing, then freezing rain. Now it looks like we may actually get some snow, but mixing with rain at times so perhaps not much accumulation. Some of the model runs have shown a pretty intense Arctic blast into the Northeast next week, but others not so much. I’ve noticed lots of variability out in CA also.

            I know in some areas of CA, Feb is on average wetter than Jan…

  • Dan the Weatherman

    There must be something about the current pattern that we are in or something the models are sensing that is going to change that is causing the extreme difference in solutions from one run to the next. The 4 runs of the GFS mentioned above that are totally different from each other is about as extreme as model inconsistency gets.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Once again tonight there is a High Wind Warning for the Orange County coastal areas, but the forecast wind speeds for the area look to me as if they are high end Wind Advisory criteria:

    ORANGE COUNTY COASTAL AREAS-
    726 PM PST SAT JAN 7 2012

    …HIGH WIND WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST SUNDAY…

    .TONIGHT…MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS 40 TO 50. AREAS OF WINDS NORTHEAST 20 TO 30 MPH. GUSTS TO 35 MPH…BECOMING 55 MPH OVERNIGHT NEAR THE FOOTHILLS.
    .SUNDAY…MOSTLY SUNNY. WARMER. HIGHS 68 TO 73 NEAR THE COAST TO 72 TO 77 INLAND. AREAS OF WINDS NORTHEAST 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 35 MPH…BECOMING 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 25 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON.
    .SUNDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS 41 TO 51. AREAS OF WINDS
    NORTHEAST 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 25 MPH.

    Does gusts to 55 mph meet High Wind Warning criteria? I thought it was 60+ mph.
    On Sunday, the wind forecast speeds are only up to 35 mph, which is minimal Wind Advisory criteria, but the area is under a High Wind Warning. Why is there a High Wind Warning out for these wind speeds for Sunday? I’m puzzled by this and I have been seeing this more often lately.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    Well…hope of a pattern change is starting to diminish per recent model runs. A cutoff low could perhaps produce some light precipitation over a small part of Southern California later this week…but all of NorCal and Central CA is expected to remain dry. After that…it now appears that the “Death Ridge” is likely to build back in with a vengeance. In fact, the latest GFS runs are indicating the possibility of widespread nearly summer-like temperatures in the second half of January throughout California. It is starting to look like we may end up facing the driest January on record for the at least the Bay Area, Central Valley, and (critically) the Sierra Nevada–and that’s following one of the driest Decembers ever for all of these locations. Stay tuned.

    • sc100

      Yep, it’s looking like it’s gonna be one of those “you’ll tell your grandkids about it” kind of winters.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The models have been so inconsistent that even the NWS meteorologists aren’t quite sure what is going to happen beyond about 3-4 days or so.

    This afternoon’s San Diego NWS AFD excerpt: THE NEXT LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM HAS BEEN A PUZZLER. YESTERDAY THE EURO MODEL WAS THE OUTLIER CUTTING IT OFF AND SPINNING IT OUT TO SEA ON WEDNESDAY. ALL THE OTHER MODELS HAD THE SYSTEM MOVING THROUGH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. WOULDNT YOU KNOW THE EURO WAS RIGHT GOING OUT ON THAT LIMB. OVERNIGHT THE OTHER MODELS STARTED TO FOLLOW THE EURO LEAD AND THE 12Z MODELS CONCUR. WHERE THEY MOVE THE SYSTEM IS STILL VERY UNCERTAIN THURSDAY THROUGH SUNDAY…SOUTH THROUGH BAJA…DIRECTLY THROUGH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA…OR NORTH THROUGH NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. THERE ARE EVEN HINTS OF RAIN NEXT WEEKEND. LIKE WE BELIEVE THAT…BASED ON RECENT MODEL PERFORMANCE BEYOND THREE DAYS. EXPECT COOLER WEATHER TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY WITH SOME COASTAL CLOUDS WEDNESDAY. ALSO SOME WEAK OFFSHORE FLOW THURSDAY AND BEYOND…DEPENDING ON WHERE THAT SYSTEM GOES EXACTLY. WHILE THURSDAY AND FRIDAY LOOK A LITTLE WARMER…THE WEEKEND LOOKS COOLER NOW.

    I am not confident about any particular weather event happening until there is some model consensus in the medium to long range. I do believe a pattern change is coming, because Norcal and the Sierras can’t stay dry forever during the wet season, but I am not sure what the end result will be.

    • sc100

      Regarding how long Norcal can go this time of year without seeing rain, I checked the records and found that the longest dry period during Dec and Jan was 41 days, from Dec 18, 1962 to Jan 27, 1963. Right now we’re at 24 days, starting Dec 16. If we went 41 days without rain again that would take us to Jan 25, two and a half weeks from now. So that strongly suggests the pattern will break sometime by then. But then, you never know, records can be broken. Last week, some cities in the Upper Midwest were breaking daily temperature records by 10 to 15 degrees, so we’ve been in a pretty extreme pattern lately.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I have noticed that here in Socal that the maximum period of duration for a dry spell during the rainy season tends to be about 6 weeks or so. SC100, that dry spell in Norcal you just mentioned was almost exactly 6 weeks, further supporting my theory that winter dry spells very seldom go on longer than that before the upper air pattern changes dramatically.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          However, you do have a point that we are in an extreme weather pattern in which record highs have been broken by a wide margin, and the mildness has been extremely persistent nationwide this season. So there is at least a possibility that a dry spell in CA could last longer given the circumstances.

      • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

        It’s also important to remember that the Dec 16 precip was pretty insignificant, and did not really result in any runoff or snow accumulations more than an inch or two. The “effective” length of the dry spell is significantly longer–taking us back to the second half of November, at least for NorCal. That is truly impressive. Again, the present dryness is certainly not unheard of in the southern third of the state, but it is starting to get really, really disconcerting to be in the Bay Area and see day after day of clear skies for weeks on either side of the winter solstice…

        • sc100

          That’s a good point. The Dec 15 rain and snow was inconsequential to the state’s water situation. The previous day of real rain before that was Nov 24. And November was a pretty dry month. Sacramento’s precip was only 33% of normal that month.

          • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

            kill your lawn! plant native plants now!

  • Tom in San Diego

    I’m surprised things have stayed as green as they have down here. I notice there is still standing water in some lying areas in the Tj slough and Mission Valley.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I believe that the San Diego area has had more rainfall this fall than anywhere else in CA from San Francisco southward. The last significant rain fell at Lindbergh Field on December 12-13 with a total of .80″, so our dry streak currently stands at 3 1/2 weeks, which is not long enough to everything to turn brown yet, but if it continues much longer, then the brush will begin to turn and the fire danger will rise significantly.

  • Tom in San Diego

    I think it’ll break before the month’s but this sure as hell is is one persistent ridge!

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    1/9 00z GFS: any hint of even a slight pattern change has disappeared. That’s now 4 model cycles in a row. Unbelievably strong and broad ridge over the West Coast depicted days 10-16–the region of extreme dryness appears to expand up into the Pacific Northwest if recent GFS runs are to be believed.

  • David

    Daniel the new 00z of the gfs all so look a little summer like

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Even Seattle, WA is below average on their seasonal rainfall total to date (period of record begins Oct. 1) by about 4.6 inches, thanks largely in part to a four week dry spell in December up there that broke just after Christmas. They are usually very wet in a La Nina year, especially in the fall.

  • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

    just checked the 6Z GPS again and paid more attention to the West. I think what is happening here is even worse for CA than I thought. There IS a pattern change as the jet stream would now be howling cold air into New England (it has been quite warm and dry here so far this winter)… meaning a new pattern would set up but it would be JUST AS DRY as the last one and would probably settle in for a few weeks, it seems.

    Good news for getting snow in VT but very bad news for CA if it is true. We’ll see what the 12Z brings.

  • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

    just as dry in the West, I meant to say. Not as dry here in VT.

  • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

    also the 12Z NAM is very different than the GPS for that New England storm (warmer, unfortunately)… very weird

    • http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Inyo/show.html Inyo

      which of course meant that the 12Z GFS came in cold and dry for the same storm.

  • sc100

    So this is where all the snow went…

    http://tinyurl.com/84htbgf

  • Ken K.

    Storms are staying way north, not looking good for any Precip. anytime soon.
    Normally there would be a pattern change like Dan said, this far into this dry spell. I guess pay back for the wet pattern last year. Unforuntately fire season is upon us. They had a few fire yesterday with the winds, under 30 acres, but with time they will get bigger. Rain and Snow needed ASAP.

  • alan

    Through Nov we were @ or above average for snowfall/precip in the socal mountains. Obviously the tides have turned through Dec. & now. For comparison I looked @ mammoth mountain. For the season they are @ 52″ snow, of that only 2″ has come since December (20″ NOV & 30″ OCT). Nearly unprecedented, but i noticed the 75/76 season produced a total of just 94″ snow (all falling in a 3 month period feb/march/april), less then half their average, or even a third of their average.

    From their webcams you can tell they would NOT be open if it weren’t for man made snow, and the top is above 10k….

    And this is in contrast to last years record breaking 600″+ snow @ mammoth (200″ falling in a one week period during the last week in dec.)

  • Tom in San Diego

    Well, this is certainly interesting, for what its worth.

    Got an e-message from my relief. Says they left Japan Friday morning (thursday our time) and broke out the foul weather gear expecting a cold wet crossing, but haven’t seen it yet. There is rain ahead of them trending Northeast, but with milder temperatures and not near the rough seas you normally expect this time of year. They should be near 160 East as of this afternoon our time, early Tuesday morning for them.

    • Tom in San Diego

      So the weathers out there, but seemingly not as intense as it normally is for this time of year. I don’t know if that just La No-no or lack of a strong MJO

  • Tom in San Diego

    Correction late Tuesday morning, (did’t have enough fingers to compute)

  • David

    Daniel WordPress 3.3.1 is out this wenting you no may be its time too upgrade

  • Nicholas

    Someone needs to look in the lost and found for Winter. Sure the heck is hard to find for the US.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The 12Z Euro indicates a storm in northern and central CA around next Tuesday or so with additional storms to follow, and whether Socal gets in on the action remains to be seen. For some reason the GFS is not getting on board with this. I have been reading Western Weather Forums and some members there believe the GFS is an outlier at this point in not showing the pattern change next week. We will see…

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I should have said that the GFS operational run has not gotten on board, but the ensembles are beginning to trend toward the change.

    • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

      The ensembles are indeed starting to show possible precipitation in NorCal after day 9. I’ll still be skeptical until it gets closer due to the persistence of the prevailing pattern, but even the 00z control run finally has some accumulated precip after day 9. Problem is, the change being indicated is a relatively weak incursion by the zonal jet to our north–hardly a slam dunk for significant precip in CA. Still…there are some nonzero rain prospects on the horizon.

  • coldspot

    Yep it’s been a long time since I left a comment. In extreme no cal first time in 12 years that I have been here without ever having snow on the ground since last winter. Medford, Or NOAA
    Has been calling for 30 percent chance of showers last night and this am but recived nil. This keeps up my fire season is going to be ramping up soon. The dead fuel moisture is really low for this time of year.

  • Tom in San Diego

    N’other day in paradise.

  • David

    the 12z gfs is back at it

  • sc100

    All right, I’m now pretty convinced we’ll see a pattern change by next week. That Low coming down from Alaska later this week is really going to shake things up. NWS is thinking this way too. Even if the storms don’t end up being as big as they look now I still think we’ll be getting something and the overall pattern will be different. We’re going to have to watch that subtropical tap too.

    • Tom in San Diego

      Yeah, but that’s real square dance. It rarely matches up, and when it does, you’d wish it hadn’t!

      • sc100

        Yep! We’ll have to see what happens this time. This has the potential to be a big change. We don’t want to go from the frying pan into the fire though.

  • David

    the 12z 18z and 00z of the gfs was vary good today

    • sc100

      I’m definitely a believer now.

    • Tom in San Diego

      Hmmm Slight chance of showers Sunday for Sandy Dog

      • Tom in San Diego

        More specifically southern Sandy Dog, to be more exact only the south end of the silver strand and Imperial Beach, “the bunch by the beach by the border”

  • coldspot

    A cold 17 degrees this am would be nice to see the snow start falling. Sac NOAA says snow levels for No cal next week at 3000 to 3500. I’m right at 2900′ but the lee side of the Marble Mountains always drops the level lower for me with increased precip amounts. I hope the models due follow up for next week.

  • alan

    Well looks like socal should have at least one shot @ real precip between the 21st & 25th, been rather consistent with the on-slot of systems, at least from point conception north…. wow i just realized i’m talking 10 to 15 days out still…..ah well, we shall see….

  • David

    i noted today that the SFO adf have follow the ECW all so am droping the gfs and going with the ECW

  • Nicholas

    GFS has trended more progressive with a lot less moisture.

  • Tom in San Diego

    20-30 % chance Sunday for all of San Diego now.

  • PacificStorm

    ECMWF still has quite a bit of moisture.

  • Tom in San Diego

    40% now with a typical 1 day’s slippage. It nearly always rains later than predicted here.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    It looks as if the long awaited pattern change will begin next week as rain prospects increase for Norcal (with much needed snowfall in the Sierras) and Socal getting into the act by next weekend and the following week as storms start to move in from the Gulf of Alaska. A cutoff low may bring some light rain in Socal this Sunday and may linger into early Monday as a second system drops in as an inside slider keeping the marine layer moisture deeper west of the mountains. The weather is certainly beginning to look much more interesting than it has for about the last month in Socal and for about the last month and a half for Norcal.

    • sc100

      Yeah, it looks like this is going to turn out pretty good for Norcal. The storm door could be open for quite a while starting midweek.

  • Tom in San Diego

    See! I told you all it would change before the month is out.

    It always rains when I go back to work!.

  • sc100

    This in particular has been an encouraging sign the last several days. Things are looking good. From NWS Sac this morning:

    ONE THING THAT HAS BEEN VERY CONSISTENT OVER THE PAST SEVERAL DAYS IS THE MODELING OF A LONG PRECIPITABLE WATER PLUME PROGGED TO EXTEND TO THE COAST BY THE END OF THE WEEK. PW VALUES WITH THIS PLUME REMAINS PROGGED AT NEARLY AN INCH AND A HALF SO SOME OF THE SHORTWAVES MOVING THROUGH NORCAL WILL HAVE A GOOD MOISTURE TAP AND COULD BE FAIRLY GOOD PRECIP PRODUCERS.

  • Tom in San Diego

    70% chance now, but wait a sec. Weather Channel says “no rain” (!) wha- ?, but NWS says “yes rain”. We’ll know by this time tomorrow, but my guess is weather channel is using the GFS which has a dry scenario.

  • Nicholas

    Weather and Weatherstar (local weather channel forecast on cable local on 8) says just sprinkles tomorrow with the 18z GFS and NAM showing the moisture mostly just hugging the upper elevations. IT should be interesting to see what takes place if anything.

    Also with such dry air in place anything think we could have some microburst of the rain gets heavy enough?

  • coldspot

    Warm and breezy tonight a first in A long time. Probably will struggle to get below freezing tonight. 20 percent chance of snow showers tomorrow. Tuesday things start to ramp up here with strong winds and lots of precip per NOAA Medford Or. Oh yeah go 49ers!!!

  • Nicholas

    I hope them Packers do well tomorrow. I also hope we get some decent moisture.

  • David

    hey Daniel time too wake up we got big storms heading this way with lots of Rain and even strong winds

  • Ken K.

    interesting turn tonight. NWS S.D. forecast 90% chance of showers Sunday Evening here(S.D. Valleys), with saturation from the surface to 700MB for San Diego County, less to the north. With a better chance for all of So. Cal Next Saturday. Time will tell.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    Well, winter is finally making an appearance in California. I’ll have an update within the next 24 hours…

  • Tom in San Diego

    We did feel a couple drops after mass this morning, but with the the ceiling still (Im guesstimating) 5 to 6K, that tells me no rain yet, but NWS is still going with 70% now for to night.

    • Tom in San Diego

      Oops make that 80% tonight, they just bumped it up.

  • Nicholas

    Over here in Whittier it looks more like a monsoon event with a low sun angle and a much lower temp. High and mid level clouds with dark basses but only a few drops hitting the ground.

  • coldspot

    Wow we actually had a few light snow flurries in the last hour. What a change from the last two months. Yesterday splitting wood in a T shirt and today bundled up in insulated coveralls and sweatshirt and still cold. Sounds like very heavy rain coming our way starting weds with storm force winds on the coast.

    • sc100

      Do you live close to the Oregon border? I know some places up there average over 100 inches of rain a year. Do you live in one of those areas? I’m always fascinated by the microclimates that exist here in this part of the country.

      • PacificStorm

        Up here in the Butte county foothills… SW facing slopes here make for great orographics. The average here used to be 110″… looks like these upcoming systems will have great orographics so this location could pick up several inches per storm (right now I’m expecting 2 – 3″ from the first storm Wed/Thu… 4 – 6″ from the second Fri-Sun storm… and it looks like it could also snow come Sunday as the cold air behind the low moves overhead).

        • sc100

          Yeah, some of the rain your area gets can be unreal. I like looking at rainfall totals from there when big storms come in and be amazed at the totals. How close do you live to Strawberry Valley? That’s pretty well known down here on local newstations as an area that gets a ton of rain. Also, I have an uncle who lives in Berry Creek, which I think is in your general direction.

          • PacificStorm

            Strawberry Valley is around 30 miles to my southeast… the city I’m in is Magalia… right above Paradise. And yep Berry Creek is maybe 15 miles to my south. Will post rainfall totals from Wed – Sun either later Sunday or Monday… may have to dump the gauge a few times it looks like.

      • coldspot

        Yep about 20 miles south of the border in Siskiyou county. Actually in the Scott Valley outside of Fort Jones up against the lee side of the Marble Mountains. Yes, we do have a very different microcline from the rest of the valley. Usually 2 to 3 times the amount of snow or rain from the rest of the valley. Rain averages around 25 inches per year.

  • Nicholas

    V_V Next season should be a good one for the Packers.

  • redlands

    Well – Redlands, Ca at my station wont go dry for the month of January — We have 0.02 of rain as of 842pm — Got a long way to go to catch up — hope more is to come — Anyone else get any rain

    • Dan the Weatherman

      There has been some very light rain here in Orange off and on for the last couple of hours, but it has tapered off now.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    Amazingly enough…there are presently some snow showers along the far NorCal coastline from around the Eureka area northward. Looks like an active week ahead. Update tomorrow.

  • Ken K.

    we are picking up showers over the last couple of hours here at the house9Granite Hills),activity is picking up now. Looking good for next weekend, 1st heavy rain event for us in the southland as the system moves south. nice to see the rain falling.

  • alan

    dusting of snow @ 6k, looking forward to more next week!

  • David

    hey Daniel what you think about the snow storm for OR and WA

    • David

      looks like if thing set up this right for them it will be one and a life time storm

  • Tom in San Diego

    NOLF at IB didn’t report anything, but there’s about an 8th of an inch in the can this morning. Brown Field up on Otay Mesa got a little more .14

  • coldspot

    Got down to 11 this am and still is only at 31 degrees. Winter storm watch in effect per Medford NOAA for most of their fca for Tuesday thru ?. Sounds like this pattern could last a while.

  • redlands

    Only 0.03 of rain in Redlands, Ca for this storm — 1/15/2012 — hopefully we will get more — are the storms coming up — stronger

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Only .04″ fell here in Orange yesterday with this last storm. I’m certainly looking forward to bigger storms and hopefully the ones forecast this weekend materialize.

  • Nicholas

    Models keep trending with less rain for So Cal. More rain for No Cal. I guess they need it more but things are looking a bit grim again for So Cal.

  • http://weatherwest.com Daniel Swain

    Looks like a potentially record-setting hard freeze for much of the Sacramento Valley tonight. That sort of snuck up by surprise–temps are already in the mid 20s and plummeting with dewpoints 5 to 15 F. Much of the Bay Area is already below freezing this evening, and there are more snow showers along the far north coast. Major and potentially record-setting sea-level snow event for Washington and perhaps parts of Oregon, including Seattle where over a foot may fall. Unfortunately…just cold temps for most of CA out of this one. The good news is that rain is definitely on the way for the entire state…I will try to get a late-night update out tonight. Stay tuned!

  • Ken K.

    Picked up .14 at the house with this storm.(Granite Hills). Looking forward to more rain and stronger storms.