FAIRFIELD — Rain this week will help the area slowly inch away from extreme drought fears, but a local meteorologist said chances of a normal rainfall year remain slim.
Mike Pechner of Global West Meteorology said the storm that moved into the area early Wednesday could wrap up Thursday morning with potential thunderstorms.
Pechner, of Cordelia Villages, called the rain beneficial, but declined to give an estimate of rainfall totals because thunderstorms could drop a lot of moisture in a short time.
“We should see a brief break in the action in (Thursday) afternoon and evening, with a few scattered showers,” Pechner said. “By then it will have passed off east. The next weather system, stronger than this one, will be here Friday, Friday night and a good portion of the day Saturday.”
The National Weather Service is calling for a 70 percent chance of rain Thursday, dipping to 60 percent at night and jumping to 90 percent Friday.
Precipitation will start to taper off Saturday with a 40 percent chance, dropping to 20 percent that night.
“It all helps,” Pechner said. “Things will not be as dire as they were at the end of January, when we had no rain at all.”
The dry January came after the driest calendar year on record for the area. A big storm system that came through in early February helped get things on track for this year.
“March has the appearance of a normal winter weather pattern,” Pechner said.
Still, the area faces a significant rain deficit.
“We’re so far behind, we’d need rain for the next 30 days,” Pechner said. “We’re 15 inches down.”
State water officials plan Thursday to survey the anemic mountain snow pack, and will likely find that California’s precipitation is badly lagging what’s needed to quench the region’s thirst.
A so-called Pineapple Express storm brought rain and snow to Northern California earlier this month, and when it departed, the Sierra Nevada snowpack had grown but was still only 29 percent of normal.
Things in Solano County are looking better, though.
“The most visible part is, in one week, we’ve gone from yellow and brown in the hills to green,” Pechner said.
The rain has proved a lifesaver for local farmers and other growers who faced the possibility of having to irrigate in the winter.
“Now, that’s off the table,” Pechner said.
Pechner said rainfall is about 150 percent of normal thus far for February.
Normal rainfall for March is 3¼ inches to 3½ inches.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.