FAIRFIELD — Storm clouds Sunday provided some winter relief and cooler temperatures as the state copes with drought and a prolonged fire season.
Mike Pechner of Golden West Meteorology said 0.47 inches of rain fell in Cordelia, effectively ending the fire season in a region where fuel moisture levels are still low.
“This is excellent rain because we have never really ended the fire season, and usually you need 2 to 3 inches in the (Cordelia) Fire (Protection) District to put an end to the fire season, and we really haven’t had that,” he said. “The fuels are still dry, but this puts a tremendous end to a winter fire season that we frankly haven’t seen before – at least in recent history.”
Travis Air Force Base got 0.28 inches of rain and Vacaville saw 0.07 inches, he said.
“Any rain we get now is significant because of the hole we were in because of the drought,” Pechner said.
Sunday was also cold. Pechner said the continuous cloud cover trapped the cool overnight air, setting a high temperature that was the lowest Fairfield and Vacaville have had in a couple of months. The high temperature at Travis Air Force Base was 44 degrees, he said. Vacaville’s high was 46 degrees.
“This is the coldest day of the winter going back to last year,” he said.
The last time Travis saw colder days was in January 2011, according to Pechner.
With the lack of rain this winter, the surrounding foothills have remained dry and brown since last summer. Pechner said that appears to be changing.
“By the first of February you expect it to be dark green, and it’s not,” he said. “Yesterday’s rains and today’s rains have started the greening process, which usually happens with the first or second week of November.”
Pechner said the rain will be welcome for local growers in the drought.
“This rain is great for both vintners and agricultural interests throughout the valley because even a little bit of rain is better than no rain at all,” he said.
The Sierra Nevada saw about 2 feet of snow over the weekend, but Pechner said the mountains could use some more.
“We only got a few inches today, but they need feet up there,” he said. “In terms of skiers and snowboarders, here an inch or two (of rain) is helpful because it improves the surface conditions with all the ski runs.”
Hope remains for a solid February. Pechner said the strongest storm of the season will arrive next weekend.
“We could end up with normal rainfall for February,” said Pechner.
The month’s average rainfall is 4.2 inches, he said.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.