January proved to be an exceptional month for new weather records, as drought conditions afflicted Sacramento.
The capital city broke record high temperatures on eight days and tied four records, according to the National Weather Service. Another astonishing fact: Daytime high temperatures were above normal every day.
“We rewrote the history books,” said Brooke Bingaman, a weather service meteorologist in Sacramento. “The fact that we had so many record-breaking phenomena in one month indicates an abnormal situation.”
January 2014 is now officially Sacramento’s third-driest month – with 0.20 inches of precipitation – since the government began keeping records in 1850. Average rainfall for January is 3.97 inches.
That wasn’t surprising considering the city went without rain for 52 days, breaking the previous dry spell record in the rainy season of 44 days from 1976. Sacramento has received a measly 1.95 inches since the water year began July 1, compared with 11.31 inches for a regular season.
“We were on track to be the driest January ever,” Bingaman said, until a small flurry of storms last week.
The conditions have prompted a string of draconian actions from local and state governments in the last month, culminating with Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought declaration Jan. 17. On Friday, state officials announced that 29 water agencies serving 25 million people across California can expect “zero” water deliveries from the State Water Project because of the worsening drought.
Across the capital region, numerous jurisdictions have called for reductions in water usage from residents and businesses alike. The Placer County Water Agency board of directors is set to vote Thursday to ask customers to reduce usage by 35 percent.
Whether we’ll see any relief in February remains to be seen. Dry weather and unseasonably high temperatures will continue to dominate the forecast for the coming week.
Though a low-pressure system is moving south from the California-Oregon border today, don’t bet on it for rain, said weather service forecaster Johnnie Powell.
“It depends on whether the system wobbles down to our area,” he said, noting there was only a 20 percent chance of showers. “But after that goes away, the high pressure fills back in and, unfortunately, it’s going to be dry for at least a week.”
Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.