BEN LOMOND (KPIX 5) – Even in an area known year after year for its extremely wet weather, the El Niño season in Ben Lomond has been close to a record.
So far, Ben Lomond has received 62 inches of rain, well over its own average of 50 inches, enough to fill the nearby Loch Lomond reservoir nearly to the brim.
“The rainfall is squeezed out the most in that particular area,” said Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services.
Null told KPIX 5 it has to do with the angle Pacific storms are hitting the steep slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“You have two mountains rising on both sides, that’s why it brings all the clouds right here,” said Masood Madani of Ben Lomond.
Local residents said two things are needed to survive an El Niño winter in the Santa Cruz Mountains. First, a generator.
“Anytime the power goes off, boom, automatic, the power comes back on,” Madani explained.
The other item is a chainsaw.
“Most of the people here all own chainsaws,” said Becky Mitrovich of Ben Lomond. “And if they see a tree down, they’ll stop, cut it out of the way, move it so people can get to work.”
Rainfall totals for other cities include San Francisco with almost 20 inches, Oakland with 14 inches and San Jose with 12 inches.
The huge difference in rainfall between Ben Lomond and other places is called a rain shadow.
“There’s something in the order of about 40 inches of rain difference in about 12 or 15 miles,” Null said.
While Ben Lomond saw more than five feet of rain, the absolute rainfall record this winter is at Venado in Sonoma County. The small community near Healdsburg saw more than six feet of rain, 77 inches, so far this El Niño season.