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Forecasters: Dry weather to continue

An aerial photograph of the Sierra Nevada demonstrate the low levels of area reservoirs after a dry winter has been followed by a slow start to the 2013-14 California water year. The exposed shores of Rollins Lake demonstrate how far recession has occurred along the shore.
Photo courtesy of Lee Brant |

The reign of dry weather continues to hold sway over Northern California, which is fast approaching records for aridity during the calendar year.

A dearth of precipitation in late winter and early spring of 2013 has combined with a lack of rainfall in early and late fall to spell the word dry.

“This might be the driest calendar year on record,” said Holly Osborne, National Weather Service forecaster.



“A lot depends on rainfall during December.”

“This might be the driest calendar year on record. A lot depends on rainfall during December.”
Holly Osborne
National Weather Service forecaster

Last week, forecasters were warning rain could hit the Sierra foothills on Thanksgiving Day, but have since backed off the predictions, saying while the sky may be overcast, little rain is expected to fall.




A low-pressure system carrying modest amounts of moisture will skirt the coast of California, heading due south, although the high Sierra might get slight snow accumulations with the snow level pegged at 6,000 feet, Osborne said.

The overcast weather should hang around through Friday before a high-pressure system ushers in clear skies and dry weather.

Another low-pressure system might enter the region Sunday into Monday, but the system will be cold and dry as it will originate in the north, Osborne said.

The true gully-washers occur when storm systems from the south, which typically carry heavy concentrations of moisture, meet up with the cold storm systems from the north and form an atmospheric river over Northern California.

Such an occurrence happened last December and created widespread flooding and damage throughout western Nevada County.

Weather forecasters are riding the fence when it comes to the long-term outlook for the region, as there are no distinctive macro-weather events such as an “El Nino” to indicate whether the season will be dry or wet.

For now, forecasters are predicting a normal year, Osborne said.

While the calendar year aridity is dominating the conversation, the water year, which begins Oct. 1 in California, also is well below normal.

Currently, 2.5 inches of rain has fallen on the region, most of which occurred in the early part of last week.

Last year, about 11 inches of rain had fallen on the Northern Sierra by late November, with about 25 inches of rain accumulating by Dec. 5.

The average for Nov. 25 is about 8 inches, according to the Department of Water Resources.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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