FAIRFIELD — January and February have delivered a rainy season one-two punch to Solano County – punches of drought.
First came January, when Fairfield got about 0.6 inches of rain, compared to the usual 4.83 inches. Now February is wrapping up with about 0.25 inches, compared to the usual 3.34 inches.
And March, which begins Friday?
“The first possibility of measurable rain would be next week around Wednesday and Thursday,” Cordelia Villages resident and Golden West Meteorology owner Mike Pechner said. “We’ll get something out of it. After than, it goes dry to mid-month. That’s the bad news.”
Unfortunately, Pechner is predicting what has become the same old story for 2013.
“The storm door will crack open for one storm,” Pechner said. “It closes again for another week.”
Systems are riding over a ridge of high pressure, like a mountain, he said. They are going to the Midwest, which had been dry and needs the rain, he said.
But time is running out for Solano County’s 2012-13 rainy season. Rain in California is measured from July 1 through June 30.
The heart of the season is from late November through March. After that, the area is unlikely to get those series of storms that can bring rain for a week or two and dramatically bump up rain totals.
Fairfield for the season at Travis Air Force Base has received less than 12 inches of rain. The average for this time of year is about 16.5 inches and the average for the entire rain season is about 20 inches.
A rainy November and December has been the saving grace. Pechner said that without the storms during those months, this rain season would be like 1976 and 1977, one of California’s most notorious droughts.
Weather records dating back to the 1870s show few Januarys and Februarys in a single year that have been this dry in Solano County. Most of even the driest years have yielded at least twice as much rain over this two-month stretch.
Put this year in a class with 1923. Rainfall totals in Suisun Valley that year measured 0.6 inches for January and nothing in February. But there’s reason for optimism – then came a rainy March, with more than 4 inches.
Local farms and cities depend on Lake Berryessa in Napa County for much of their water. The massive reservoir owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is typically slow to fill and slow to empty. It gets its water not from a snow pack, but from rain falling onto a 576-square-mile watershed that extends to 4,700-square-foot Mount Cobb in Lake County.
Lake Berryessa is 86 percent full, despite the dry January and February. It got almost its average runoff for an entire rain season during the big November and December 2012 storms.
“There’s still hope we could get big rains in March,” Solano County Water Agency General Manager David Okita said. “Even if we don’t get it, because we’re 86 percent full, we’re going to be OK for the next couple of years, no matter what.”
At this point, it appears the curtain came down on the 2012-13 rain season when December 2012 came to an end.
“Let’s hope there’s another act,” Pechner said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.