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Nearly all of March’s rainfall in Sacramento came in first 14 days

Springtime on the American River Parkway

Weekend scenes from the parkway where wildflowers were blooming, trees were leafing out and anglers, joggers and bicyclists were enjoying a warm, dry late March 2016.
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Weekend scenes from the parkway where wildflowers were blooming, trees were leafing out and anglers, joggers and bicyclists were enjoying a warm, dry late March 2016.

Spring is in the air as March turned dry in the second half of the month, producing wildflowers on the American River Parkway and warm days on the patio -- but not much precipitation.

The month ends Thursday, and, if March reaches a conclusion without rain as predicted, Sacramento will have had 10 days in a row without rain. Total rainfall for the month for Sacramento will amount to 4.64 inches.

Considering that the average rainfall for March is 3.02, that’s a fair amount. However, it could have been so much more, considering that 4.52 inches fell in the first 14 days.

The tap was turned off in the second half of the month. Sacramento has received just 0.12 since March 14.

A high pressure ridge sent rainfall away from Sacramento, said Johnnie Powell meteorologist with the National Weather System. When a high pressure ridge sets up, storms are usually forced northward, away from the Sacramento region.

Still, 4.64 inches brings the total rainfall for the season to 14.90 inches for Sacramento. That’s 85 percent of normal for March 30.

“Not bad,” said Powell. “We didn’t win the lottery, but not bad.”

Don’t look for much rain next month. The average rainfall for Sacramento in April is just 1.30 inches.

Still, rainfall this year is much improved over 2015 in Northern California. The state Department of Water Resources notes that the northern California watershed is 29 percent above average for late March.

Water content in the statewide snowpack stands at 88 percent of the April 1 average, according to a DWR press release. The state’s snowpack usually peaks around April 1, before spring snowmelt.

Snowpack surveys by the DWR in late March and early April tell how much water California will capture form the melting snow. The final snow survey at Phillips Station, along Highway 50 in the Sierra, occurs Wednesday.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown traveled to Phillips Station to draw attention to the dire drought conditions. He walked across bare ground with DWR staff to symbolically note that there was no snowpack on site to measure.

Brown issued a mandate to cut urban water use by 25 percent. The 2014-15 snowpack was only 5 percent of the historical April 1 average, according to the DWR.

A month ago, the snowpack at Phillips Station was 58.3 inches deep, an example of how mountain snow conditions have improved compared to 2015.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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