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March rains welcomed, but far from a March Miracle

By Reginald Stanley. Posted March 31, 2018, 10:56 PM.

The 2017-18 water year saw a very dry rainy season up through February, until a number of storms brought much-needed rain to the region in March.

But were the March rains a true "March Miracle"? March Miracles are a very rare phenomenon, in which a dismally dry rainy season is saved by plentiful, often heavy winter rains occurring in March - which bring the winter's season totals across the region up to near normal or perhaps even above average. Such an event has only been officially observed once, in March 1991. Excessive prolonged rains ended a bone-dry 1990-91 rainy season, with many communities breaking monthly rainfall records. However, even those rains only brought the 1990-91 season totals up to near-normal. A much less dramatic scenario also occurred in 2005-06, with a dry rainy season being halted by plentiful rains that extended from late February of 2006 through April.

March 2018 saw monthly precipitation totals of between 1 and 3 inches across the WeatherCurrents network. Previously, the 2017-18 water year was unusually very inactive - with only one notable storm occurring in mid-January. Season totals through the end of February were about 40 percent of normal, on average. As of March 31st, Temecula's season total is 59 percent of normal-to-date. In neighboring Murrieta, it is currently only 38 percent of normal. Similar percentages between 40 and 60 percent of normal have been observed across the WeatherCurrents network, among applicable stations with at least five years of data.

A notable exception was Simi Valley, northeast of Los Angeles, where 6.07 inches was recorded in March 2018. Season totals remain well below-average across the region. Chances of additional significant rain decrease with every week, as progressively drier Spring months lie ahead.

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