SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The last time the San Francisco Bay Area suffered through a bone-dry February, Abraham Lincoln was in the White House and the nation was in the grips of the Civil War.
That’s right. According meteorologists the last February without a drop of rain the region was in 1864. With a high pressure ridge perched off the coast it appears Northern California may just match that honor this year.
The ridge has pushed the storms, which generally make February one of the wettest months of the year, into the Northwest where both Portland and Seattle have been deluged by rain and snow.
The National Weather Service warned Seattle-area residents to brace for more stormy weather this weekend.
A series of fronts will move through the area starting on Thursday,” weather service forecasters warned. “Each system will bring lowland rain, breezy conditions and mountain snow. The weather system over the weekend will bring heavy snow to the mountains.”
It’s enough to make Bay Area skiers drool, but they will have to settle for the sun block. The unusually dry conditions led to several new record highs in the Bay Area on Tuesday.
Santa Rosa set a new mark of 80 degrees, topping a 74-degree reading in 1996. Richmond reached a record high of 74, Napa 79 and San Francisco’s 74 and Livermore’s 72 tied previous high temperature marks.
What difference a few months make.
Remember Thanksgiving week’s ‘Bomb Cyclone’ weather front? A monstrous 75-foot wave was recorded about 20 miles off the coast of Cape Mendocino, several feet of snow in Tahoe and flash flood warnings in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Then there were the heavy rains in December that turned the streets of San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood into a river. But since late January, the spigot has been turned off and the tradition winter storm door slammed shut.
According to the weather service, from July 1 until Feb. 10, just 8.95 inches of rain has fallen in San Francisco — that’s 59 percent of normal to date. Oakland has gotten just 6.03 inches or 47 percent of normal. Santa Rosa has seen 15.95 inches of rain — the most for any large Bay Area city — but that is just 68 percent of what it normally receives.
Livermore’s situation is even more direr. The East Bay city has gotten a little less than 3 inches of rain so far for just 30 percent of its normal rainfall.
While threatening to usher some drought-like conditions down the road, the dry February so far has the U.S. Drought Monitor listing Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda and San Mateo counties as merely abnormally dry — one notch below the beginning of drought conditions.
As for the reservoirs, the state reported Wednesday that Folsom Lake was at 49 percent capacity, Lake Oroville at 63 and Lake Shasta at 78 percent.