SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Historic rainfall totals in December edged Northern California above normal rainfall for this time of year, a rarity during the state’s 3-year drought, but while the long-range rain projections continue to look promising, expectations of warm weather ahead could mean we’ll end up with another disappointing year for Sierra snow.

Late last month, the season’s first snow measurement was only about half of what it would be in a normal year, despite near record rainfall in the Bay Area during the early part of December.

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“The problem with the recent storm in December is that it blew in on fairly warm weather and so what precipitation did fall, didn’t fall as snow. It fell as rain,” said Doug Carlson, information officer at the California Department of Water Resources.

The long term outlook from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center suggests that while the three month outlook suggests higher than normal rainfall is likely, we are even more likely to see warmer than normal temperatures for the rest of winter. Here’s a look at the precipitation outlook for the rest of winter, with darker green indicating higher likelihood of above average rain:

(National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

Here’s a look at the temperature outlook for the next three months, with darker red indicating an increased likelihood of warmer than normal weather.

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(National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

“Many of the incoming storms will provide rain/snow mix for the Greater Lake Tahoe area,” said KPIX 5’s Roberta Gonzales. “I haven’t seen any reports suggesting will end the Drought this season.”

The snow pack supplies about one-third of the water used by residents, agriculture and industry – so a lot of snow in the Sierra would go a long way toward ending the ongoing record drought.

Despite uncommonly warm weather this week and dry weather in recent weeks, the early December rain has kept the precipitation totals for the Bay Area pacing well ahead of normal into the new year with the San Jose Airport at 193 percent of normal for this time of year and Downtown San Francisco at 158 percent of normal as of January 6th.

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