Highway 243 in the middle of Idyllwild is brimming with water within minutes after the large rainstorm hit Idyllwild on Saturday afternoon. The storm brought thunder, lightning and hail. Photo by Jenny Kirchner

Nearly a third of an inch of rain fell on the Hill between 4 and 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 6. Through Monday morning, the Keenwild Ranger Station had recorded about two-thirds of an inch of rain since July 1. It’s not much and shy of July’s normal rain paucity of 0.7 inches and another 0.78 inches in August.


The low rainfall has been the norm for the past rain year (July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012). During this period, about 20 inches fell in Idyllwild, about 80 percent of the long-term average of 25.7 inches of rain. The past year is similar to the past eight rain years. Since 2005, when more than 40 inches of rain arrived (60 percent greater than the average), only 2011 has seen above average precipitation on the Hill. The driest year was 2007, when only 43 percent of the average was recorded.

However, beginning in early fall, this trend may change. The U.S National Weather Service is forecasting an El Niño weather pattern for the fall and winter months.

“We have high confidence El Niño conditions are likely to occur for winter 2012-13,” said Alex Tardy, NWS San Diego. “These conditions can begin to impact the region as early as the fall of 2012.”

The NWS is only predicting a slight increase in chances for above normal precipitation levels in Southern California, according to Tardy. During the falls of 2010 and 2011, precipitation was above normal and tapered off dramatically during winter and spring.

In July, the NWS raised its estimate for above normal precipitation to more than 40 percent. There may be more storms with varying levels of intensity, Tardy said.

Village Center Drive becomes flooded with water and mud during the thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Jenny Kirchner