Friday night’s brief rain and snowstorm left the mountain ridges white on Saturday. By Sunday all evidence of precipitation had melted.                Photo by J.P. Crumrine
Friday night’s brief rain and snowstorm left the mountain ridges white on Saturday. By Sunday all evidence of precipitation had melted. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

This weekend’s precipitation brought needed moisture to the Hill but the extended dry period is far from over.

On April 25, Gov. Jerry Brown issued another executive order in response to the drought.

“The driest months are still to come in California and extreme drought conditions will get worse,” said Brown. “This order cuts red tape to help get water to farmers more quickly, ensure communities have safe drinking water, protect vulnerable species and prepare for an extreme fire season. I call on every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible.”

To respond to the increased threat of wildfire, the order streamlines contracting rules for the governor’s Office of Emergency Services and Cal Fire for equipment purchases and enables landowners to quickly clear brush and dead, dying or diseased trees that increase fire danger.

Through April 26, Keenwild Ranger Station has recorded 13 inches of precipitation this rain year (July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014). That is barely half the normal, long-term total (24.8 inches) through April. In Pine Cove, George Tate has recorded 14.9 inches of rain or melted snow.

This will be the third consecutive year of less-than-normal rainfall and the eighth in the past decade. Current electronic readings show the state’s snowpack is just 16 percent of average water volume. The National Weather Service is predicting the current drought to continue or worsen through July.

However, NWS’ long-term forecast sees the likelihood of an El Niño weather pattern forming next fall. It has officially designated the fall as an “El Niño Watch.”

Unfortunately, not all El Niño events bring above-average rainfall. The winter of 2004-05 was the last time the Hill saw abundant rain. The 1997-98 period was the strongest in recent times. However, the last two El Niños, 2006-07 and 2009-10, were very mild winters.

Gov. Browns drought executive order

During this drought period, Gov. Jerry Brown urged state residents to take several actions to reduce water use and dependency:

  1. Avoid using water to clean sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and other hardscapes.
  2. Turn off fountains and other decorative water features unless recycled or greywater is available.
  3. Limit vehicle washing at home by patronizing local car washes that use recycled water.
  4. Limit outdoor watering of lawns and landscaping to no more than two times a week.

Californians can learn more about conserving water from the Save Our Water campaign,

To assist landowners to meet their responsibilities for removing dead, dying and diseased trees, and to help landowners clear other trees and plants close to structures that increase fire danger, certain noticing requirements are suspended for these activities. Specifically, the requirement that any person who conducts timber operations pursuant to the exemptions in Title 14, California Code of Regulations sections 1038(b) and (c) submit notices to Cal Fire under the provisions of Title 14, California Code of Regulations, section 1038.2 is hereby suspended. Timber operations pursuant to sections 1038(b) and (c) may immediately commence operations upon submission of the required notice to Cal Fire and without a copy of the director’s notice of acceptance at the operating site. All other provisions of these regulations will remain in effect.