Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

The water feature level is low and covered with vegetation at the Turkey Creek Golf Course in Lincoln.

Sacramento heads for record dry spell

Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 - 6:56 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 1, 2014 - 1:04 pm

It looks like Sacramento is headed for an unenviable record: greatest number of consecutive days without rain during what is supposed to be the rainy season.

The rainy season, according to the National Weather Service, is November through March. That is when the Sacramento region gets most of its rain and when most of the snow falls in the Sierra Nevada, providing water for reservoirs.

This year, of course, the rainy season has been nearly nonexistent. Sacramento has received just 1.75 inches, when by now the rain gauge should have recorded nearly 10 inches.

The record Sacramento looks like a lock to shatter is 44 straight days during the rainy season without any recorded rainfall. The all-time record was set in another drought year, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 28, 1976.

This season Sacramento has not had any rain since Dec. 7. So far, as of Friday, there have been 41 consecutive dry days.

“To keep us so dry, there has been a real strong ridge of high pressure,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Michelle Mead. “It is not uncommon to see that in the month of January; however, it is uncommon to last weeks.”

The ridge is pushing the storm track well to the north of California.

The forecast does not promise any rain for the next seven days because the “ridiculously resilient ridge,” a blogger-coined phrase gaining traction among forecasters, continues to block storms from entering Northern California. If the forecast holds as predicted, the record should be broken on Tuesday.

From the record books, years marked by significant numbers of consecutive days without measurable rain during the rainy season courtesy of the weather service’s Sacramento office:

44 days: Nov. 15-Dec. 28, 1976

42: Jan. 17-Feb. 27, 1899

41: Dec. 18, 1962-Jan. 27, 1963

41: Dec. 8, 2013-Friday and counting

38: Nov. 4-Dec. 11, 1959

38: Nov. 8-Dec. 15, 1940

38: Feb. 15-March 24, 1883

36: Nov. 26-Dec. 31, 1989

36: Dec. 18, 1960-Jan. 22, 1961

36: Nov. 15-Dec. 20, 1958

34: Dec. 16, 2011-Jan. 18, 2012

34: Dec. 5, 1956-Jan. 7, 1957

Mead said that like most Californians, meteorologists are anxious for the rains to begin. Unfortunately, in the next 10 to 20 days, long-range computer models don’t indicate heavy precipitation.

No atmospheric rivers packing a high amount of water that could bring many feet of snow and buckets of rainfall in a short time appear to be heading to California in the near future.


Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof



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