Matthew Renda

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May 7, 2013
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Rain fails to help parched Nevada County

While the parched Sierra Foothills received much-needed precipitation Sunday into Monday, the rainfall was not sufficient to curtail the dry conditions that have given way to an early start to the fire season.

“It won’t make too much difference,” said Johnie Powell, forecaster with the National Weather Service. “It’s already so dry … a little bit of rain doesn’t hurt, but it won’t solve anything.”

Western Nevada County witnessed anywhere from a quarter to a full inch of rain accumulation since the upper level low-pressure system rolled into the area Sunday, Powell said.

Intermittent bouts of rain will persist through today, clearing out by Wednesday.

“You have a chance to see 80 (degrees) on Wednesday and Mother’s Day Weekend looks like it will be clear,” Powell said.

According to the station index, the total precipitation accumulation is 9 inches (20 percent) below average with few remaining days before Northern California’s summer arrives with a sustained stretch of dry weather.

“There’s a chance for a little more precipitation before it shuts off,” Powell said.

The dry conditions have made the forests across California susceptible to fire early in the season, according to fire officials.

“The conditions right now are what we should be experiencing in June,” said Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott. “This year’s dry winter has resulted in a significant increase in fire activity. In fact, Cal Fire firefighters have responded to nearly 1,100 wildfires this year, which is over 500 more than average.”

Four fires that broke out over the weekend in the Tahoe National Forest were contained or controlled Monday, according to officials with the Tahoe National Forest.

But about 106 lightning strikes occurring throughout the forest might have caused sleeper fires, which could flare up when the rain abates and conditions dry out, said TNF spokeswoman Ann Westling.

On the east side, a fire broke out south of Loyalton and just east of Stampede Reservoir over the weekend, Westling said. On the west side, two small fires near Bullards Bar were contained and crews began clean-up operations.

In Northern California, the wildfire season got off to an early start with the Panther Fire starting Wednesday.

The Panther Fire is located about 8 miles northwest of Butte Meadows in Tehama County.

As of Monday morning, the nearly 7,000-acre fire was listed at 60 percent containment. Full containment is expected to be achieved Thursday, the latest Cal Fire report stated.

About 1,800 firefighters are on scene fighting the blaze, and three injuries have been reported.

Three more large wildland fires are active in Southern California, according to the Cal Fire website.

For a map of reported lightning strikes, visit and click on this story.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or 530-477-4239.

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The Union Updated May 7, 2013 08:50AM Published May 7, 2013 09:11AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.