CENTRAL COAST—Rain and hail gave the Central Coast a dash of badly needed precipitation over the past week—with a hint more rain set for this weekend—but officials are still warning of a critically dry year if rain clouds don’t rally before the start of spring, which arrives March 20.
Long, dry and unusually warm periods have plagued winter this year. Though in January the skies opened up and drenched the region—and even tore out a huge chunk of Highway 1 in Big Sur with massive debris flows—officials say water reserves are low. In addition, the Sierra snowpack is at 61 percent of its historical average and this year marks the second dry year in a row, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
In terms of the “water year,” Watsonville stands at 61 percent of its normal water level after taking in 6.01 inches of rain thus far, says National Weather Service of Monterey meteorologist Gerry Diaz. The water year began Oct. 1.
“Watsonville is doing much better than places like Salinas, which now stands at 4.0 inches, or under 50 percent of their normal rainfall,” Diaz said. “And San Jose has only 4.33 inches, or 36 percent of normal.”
Diaz said California’s “micro climates” allows for drastic differences of climates region to region.
“Currently, as far as rain, we are running in the deficit,” Diaz said. “We have a very strong ridge blocking incoming wet weather. Normally, what is known as the Pineapple Express from the subtropics, brings us a lot of moisture. But if there is any high pressure it will block that wet weather. Right now there is a likely chance of ending our rainy season on a dry note.”
Diaz said there have been multiple reports of snow above 2,000 feet around the Central Coast over the past few days.
“We’re getting calls of a lot of lightning, especially around the Monterey Peninsula,” he said.
While Saturday will most likely offer drier, colder air, there is a chance of rain Sunday, Diaz said.
“If it rains Sunday, it will be very slight—nothing substantial,” he said.