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2018-2019 Rain Season Review and Totals

By Reginald Stanley. Posted July 1, 2019, 2:35 AM.

A weak El Nino pattern in the equatorial Pacific was present throughout the winter of 2018-19, the first such El Nino since 2015-16. However, unlike 2015-16, the region benefited greatly from an above-average rainy season during the 2018-19 water year. This stands in stark contrast to the abysmal 2017-18 water year, which was well below-average for the entire region and induced drought conditions. The last above-average water year in Southern California occurred in 2016-17.

Following a warm but generally inactive summer in 2018, the region received a healthy amount of storms during the Fall months. A surge of abundant, heavy storm activity began at the end of January, continuing throughout the entire month of February 2019 - setting numerous precipitation records for month all across the region, with particular emphasis on February 14th. February was also one of the coldest months on record in the WeatherCurrents network, where Temecula broke its previous coldest month's record of January 2007. Weaker storm activity gradually wound down through March, with a warming trend taking place during April. A cluster of late-season storm activity took place in May, followed by unusually persistent marine layer through most of June.

Season totals across the WeatherCurrents network far exceeded that of 2017-18. The highest season total in the WeatherCurrents network belonged to De Luz, where 25.87 inches was recorded for the 2018-19 water year. WeatherCurrents stations that exceeded 20 inches also included Lake Elsinore, Fallbrook, Hemet, and Beaumont (Cherry Valley). This stands in comparison to last year, when no WeatherCurrents station even reached 10 inches for the season. In Temecula, where precipitation records date back to 2000, the water year of 2018-19 was the third-wettest rainy season on record, behind 2010-11 and 2004-05. The 2018-19 water year stands out among a decade of mostly below-average rainy seasons, with only 2010-11 and 2016-17 being the other two moderately wet seasons. Notable season totals also included 26.17 inches in East Highland (courtesy of Peter Michas) and 21.37 inches in Temecula Valley's Wine Country to the east (courtesy of Jim Sappington).

The Climate Prediction Center stated in a June 24 update that weak El Nino conditions have been present in the equatorial Pacific since Fall 2018, and continues to remain as of June 2019. Weak El Nino conditions are expected to continue throughout the summer, with a 55 percent chance of continuing into Fall 2019. Predictions for the 2019-20 winter remain uncertain. Temperatures have also been noticeably much cooler than normal for the time of year since May, exacerbated by low pressure. Drought conditions improved amid a wet 2018-19 winter. A particularly potent Spring bloom was observed across the region during March and April of 2019, after recovering from an unusually cold and wet February.

The water year in Southern California runs from July 1st through June 30th. Season averages were calculated for WeatherCurrents stations with at least five complete seasons of data. Season averages are largely skewed too low due to excessive numbers of below-average rainy seasons in the 2010s.

Here are the season totals for the WeatherCurrents network and associates:

Location 2018-2019 Season Average Source
East Highland 26.17"  N/A Peter Michas
De Luz 25.87"  15.42"  WeatherCurrents
Lake Elsinore 24.86"  11.62"  WeatherCurrents
South Fallbrook 22.95"  14.72"  WeatherCurrents
East Hemet 22.26"  12.31"  WeatherCurrents
Temecula Valley Wine Country 21.37"  N/A Jim Sappington
Beaumont (Cherry Valley) 21.07"  14.88"  WeatherCurrents
Anza 19.90"  11.36"  WeatherCurrents
South Temecula 19.87"  12.86"  WeatherCurrents
Simi Valley 18.70"  10.15"  WeatherCurrents
Northwest Murrieta 17.68"  13.29"  WeatherCurrents
Moreno Valley 16.54"  10.14"  WeatherCurrents
Central Murrieta 15.84"  N/A Reginald Stanley
San Jacinto 15.66"  10.55"  WeatherCurrents
French Valley 15.18"  9.89"  WeatherCurrents
Pinon Hills 14.97"  N/A WeatherCurrents
Riverside (Presidential Park) 14.78"  8.93"  WeatherCurrents
Perris 13.82"  8.84"  WeatherCurrents
Wildomar 6.31" 1 N/A WeatherCurrents
  1. Wildomar season total incomplete.
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