By Miriam Raftery
March 28, 2018 (San Diego) – Did the recent rains produce a “miracle March” to ease drought conditions? No, says Alex Tardy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. The good news is that the March rains did bring our region up to 37 percent of normal, better than the parched conditions earlier in the winter season. But the forecast through mid-April predicts warmer and dryer conditions than on average – and already, much of Southern California is listed a D-1 or D-2, that’s moderate to severe drought levels.
January and February provided a record dry start in 2018, in sharp contrast to a year earlier, which had record precipitation levels to break a five-year drought declared officially over last year by Governor Jerry Brown.
This year so far, rainfall is above normal in the Sierra Nevada, Tahoe and Santa Barbara areas, but southern California is running 25 to 50 percent below normal precipitation levels from October of last year through March of this year, to date.
Mountain areas are up to a foot shy of normal rainfall levels. In San Diego County, we’re 37 percent below normal, with Mount Palomar 50 percent below average rainfall for the season.
Not only has it been a record dry start to the year, but we also had extremely warm temperatures in January and February that were four to five degrees above normal in our inland areas, and two to three degrees above normal along the coasts. That’s just shy of the levels during the driest years on record in California in 2014 and 2015.
Snow pack levels are around 60 percent of normal statewide, even after the March rains that brought flooding in some areas.
The climate prediction center at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, predicts a dry spell that will be both warmer and drier than usual in the most southern portions of California including desert regions.
View meteorologist Alex Tardy’s full presentation with images here: