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Very dry start to 2017-18 Rainy Season

By Reginald Stanley. Posted January 1, 2018, 8:16 PM.

The 2017-18 water year has featured very little to no rainfall through the end of 2017, with no rain in the forecast continuing into January of the new year.

The wettest months of the rainy season, on average, are the months of December through March. Nearly all of the currently active WeatherCurrents stations have season totals below one inch, with only Wildomar just over an inch for the season. Most of the that rainfall resulted from summer thunderstorms in July and August. Since October 1st, less than 1/4 of an inch has been recorded individually by all of the WeatherCurrents stations. Season-to-date precipitation is currently between 3 and 6 inches below average across the WeatherCurrents network.

The last three months have been dominated by persistent high pressure ridges and offshore flow, with no significant storms affecting the region at all. Small amounts of measurable rain occurred as the result of passing weak troughs that brought no more than a few hundredths of an inch of rain, if any at all. In Temecula, where records date back to August 1999, December 2017 eclipsed December 2000 as the warmest December on record, as well as the driest. November 2017 also beat 2005 for the driest November in Temecula. The last time measurable rain fell in Temecula was way back on October 20th, and even that was only 0.01 inch.

The Climate Prediction Center's three-month outlook for the months of January through March show a 40 percent chance of below average rainfall for Southern California. Their outlook for the month of January 2018 shows equal chances of above or below average rainfall for our region. A weak La Niña is present in the equatorial Pacific Ocean this winter, which in the past has been typically associated with below-average rainfall in Southern California.

A pattern change may occur later in the month, however. Timing and intensity are unclear, but computer forecast models have been indicating chances of significant rain for Southern California late next week. Potential variability in the storm track around that time makes the forecast uncertain. More details will follow in the days to come.

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