Rain returned to the Hill Sunday, Jan. 31, and all of the weather stations on the Hill have recorded more rain through midnight Sunday than the historic average through the end of January.
In this latest storm, Pine Cove recorded 1.62 inches of rain for a total of 18.78 inches, which is nearly 4.5 more than the long-term average of 14.2 from July through January. In Idyllwild, 1.2 inches of rain and another inch of snow were recorded. At the Keenwild Ranger Station, 1.2 inches of rain fell for a total of 16.1 through January compared to the long-term average of 14.2 inches of rain through the end of January.
While the rain totals this season exceed the total rainfall for 2013 and 2014 and are within 80 to 95 percent for all of 2015, the El Niño weather conditions have not brought the anticipated excessive rains and floods. A strong El Niño condition has been forecast since early fall and is still expected to persist through April. Greater-than-average rain has been the expectation for months.
January rainfall on the Hill was only slightly more than the long-term average of nearly 5 inches. It ranged from 5.4 inches in Pine Cove to 5.1 inches of rain recorded at Keenwild.
Northern California basins have received more rain than average so far. For example, San Francisco has already recorded 100 percent of its annual average. Fresno and Monterey both have received nearly 170 percent of annual rainfall.
The state’s snowpack also is doing well. As of Sunday, it was 16 percent greater than the average through January. As a percentage of the April depth, the snowpack has doubled since Jan. 1.
The state’s Department of Water Resources is feeling slightly more optimistic. In late January, it increased the state water project allocations to 15 percent of requested water volume. The initial allocation was 10 percent, and the allocation in 2014 was 5 percent and 20 percent last year.
Weather forecasts are very difficult. Last week, on Thursday, the National Weather Service forecast between 8 to 14 inches of snow might fall in Idyllwild. Barely an inch was recorded.
The current two-week forecast is for below-average rain. But the one-month forecast is for well-above-average precipitation, as is the outlook through April.
The year-to-date is greater because of the rains in September and December. The February average has been nearly 4.5 inches and slightly less in March.