January ended with a record temperature of 74 degrees Saturday at Sacramento’s Executive Airport and almost no measurable rainfall for the month – making it the driest January on record since reliable records started being kept in 1849, the National Weather Service said.
The previous record at the airport for Jan. 31 was 70 degrees in 1976.
The record dry spell followed a nearly rainless January last year that worsened the state’s historic multiyear drought.
“It was so dry last January we didn’t think we could beat it,” said Johnnie Powell, a weather service forecaster in Sacramento. “It’s hard to catch up when you lose what’s traditionally your wettest month. When January is low, it never ends up good.”
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Last January, Sacramento had one-fifth of an inch of rain. This year, January ended with only one-one-hundredth of an inch, and that was just drizzle, Powell said. Average rainfall in January is nearly 4 inches.
“To be honest with you, we had no rain at all,” he said.
December was wet, with nearly double the average rainfall for the month. Powell said it was hard to know if February will improve the state’s chances of adding water to depleted reservoirs. The region has been stuck in a high-pressure pattern that pushes storms around California and sends them eastward.
Forecasts show a 30 percent chance of rain for Thursday night and Friday morning.
“It’s a ways out,” Powell said. “It’s looking OK. It isn’t a monster storm, but at least we have a chance of rain.”
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