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Drought continues

Dale Knutsen
Special to Feather Publishing
 

January in the Almanor Basin was warm and an exceptionally dry month.

The average low temperature at the Chester Airport was almost two degrees higher than the long-term norm and the average high temperature was nearly 12 degrees higher.

But the more important part of the local climate story was precipitation, or lack of it.

The Prattville monitoring site registered a scant 0.61 inch of total precipitation during the month, as compared to the long-term average for January of a full 6 inches.

That brings the July through June “water season” total to 4.15 inches, only 23 percent of the long-term average for this point in the year.

Snowfall was even less impressive, with only a half-inch of snow measured on the West Shore in January. That brings the season snowfall total to 6.0 inches, only 8 percent of the long-term average.

Drought relief remains elusive, with nothing major in current forecasts. The usual winter storm track shifted abruptly to the north at the start of 2013 and has continued in that mode for just over a year now.

If you compare the long-term average precipitation during that 13-month period with what we have actually received, we currently have a water deficit of almost 26 inches.

Looking at precipitation records for previous dry spells in the Basin, a return to wetter conditions generally seems to occur sometime within the second year of a drought period.

This would suggest that while we may still have to deal with dry conditions through the current winter and spring, more typical rainfall and snow should return by next autumn. That is, if history is any guide to the future.

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