U.S. Water News Online
LOS ANGELES -- With little moisture in usually wet
February, meteorologists said Los Angeles is facing its driest year
ever with less than 2 1/2 inches of rain so far.
Prolonged dry weather, which extended the wildfire season, comes
just two years after the region was awash with a near-record 37
inches of rain. Eleven inches fell that February, usually the
region's rainiest month.
But more than eight months into the rain year starting July 1,
2006, and ending June 30, the downtown University of Southern
California rain gauge only measured 2.42 inches -- 0.92 inch of it
falling in February.
Normal annual rainfall in Los Angeles is 11.43, meteorologist Eric
Boldt said from the National Weather Service regional office in
The last time it was this dry was in 1923-1924 season when 2.50
inches of rain was recorded through March 22, 1924.
"We've never had a drier year on record so far," Boldt said. "If
nothing significant happens in March, then we've pretty much run out
of time. March to early April is about the end of our wet season.
"It would take several very intense storms one after the other to
get us to normal and that's very unlikely."
The 2005 soaking replenished reservoirs and aquifers, helping the
region avoid more severe drought conditions this year. A heavy
snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is also helping with water supplies.
Severe winds and a freeze damaged crops last month, and more than
a dozen Riverside County wheat farmers who depend on winter rains
said their crops have been devastated.
"It's definitely a trying time. But when you're born and raised in
it, you tend to stick with it," said third-generation farmer Dennis
Blehm, 56, of Triple B Farms. He estimated a $1 million loss.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather
models suggest that an emerging La Nina pattern of cold water in the
tropical Pacific will keep the area dry.
"We've had more windstorms than rainstorms. This has been a really
unusual winter," said Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief John
Todd, noting Santa Ana winds that normally die out in February have
persisted into March.
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