Despite the rainfall this weekend, the National Weather Service is not optimistic about a significant wet winter in Southern California.
During his October weather briefing, Alex Tardy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s San Diego office, said, “Our forecast models … predict that El Niño conditions will develop. It’ll go into a weak phase when we get into the early part of the winter or the late fall. Basically [it will] stay at that condition for several months. This definitely is not looking like a moderate or strong El Niño; but it does look like an El Niño will develop into the weak phase.”
During the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Nov. 1, the U.S. Forest Service’s Keenwild Ranger Station recorded a half-inch of rain. George Tate recorded a very similar rainfall level in Pine Cove.
Since the beginning of the rain year (July 1), slightly more than 2 inches of rain have been recorded at Keenwild. The long-term average accumulation for July through October in Idyllwild has been 3.4 inches, thus Idyllwild has received barely 60 percent of the average rainfall for this period.
According to the recently released “Monthly/Seasonal Outlook” from the Predictive Service unit at the National Interagency Coordination Center and the Geographic Area Coordination Centers, “… expect large fire potential to remain above normal in November across the foothills, urban interface and mountains areas of Southern California from Kern and Santa Barbara counties southward. Large fire potential will eventually fall to near normal levels in December for the rest of the area.”
However, this year (July to October 2014) the four-month total rainfall in Pine Cove is 5.9 inches, which is above the long-term average.
On Monday, NWS predicted an El Niño is favored to begin in the next one to two months and last into the Northern Hemisphere until spring 2015. The resultant NWS forecast for the fall and early winter expects slightly above-normal precipitation and temperatures for Southern California.
“Across Southern California, a change toward higher moisture content in native brush and shrubs will likely wait until well into December,” according to the Predictive Services’ report.
Based on the extent of the drought for the past three years, Tardy said, “Idyllwild would need about 23 inches of rain to balance the drought’s effect.”
“The severe drought over the area is unlikely to abate much in the long term. This is the third consecutive dry year and most of the area has only seen 33 to 50 percent of normal precipitation since the end of 2011. It would take several months of well-above-normal precipitation to erase the precipitation deficit which has been accrued during the last three years,” concluded Predictive Services.