If you’ve been noticing a significant lack of precipitation in Northern California this month, you’re on to something. In fact, parts of NorCal are shaping up to see the driest February in recorded history.
The National Weather Service released a graphic showing how little precipitation has fallen on certain areas of NorCal this month and it’s staggering. With no storms forecast for the final days of February, places like Redding, Sacramento and Modesto may see zero rain this month:
With the historically dry February, the Sierra snowpack has seen a serious loss of snowpack, now at 58 percent of average for this time of year. The NWS released satellite images showing the difference between last year’s snowpack and the current situation:
That photo is quite the gut punch for anyone concerned with California water storage and the prospect of a difficult fire season in 2020. Hopes of a “Miracle March” to bring back the lost snowpack are prevalent throughout the state.
So why aren’t we seeing the usual precipitation from California’s rainiest month?
The above satellite image shows a high-pressure ridge blocking storms from reaching California, and creating a difficult time for meteorologists to forecast when the storms might break through. Current models show no precipitation in the region for the next two weeks, leaving NorCal bone dry and raising fears of another drought. In contrast, last February saw record snowfall in the Sierra, with multiple ski resorts boasting nearly 300 inches in just one month.
The high pressure in the ridge is so strong, it’s pushing storms onto either side of California, creating a dry bubble.
“If you look at weather stories about Seattle right now, they’re getting hammered with storm after storm,” said Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services, said to SFGate “The storms are going up over the top of the ridge into the Northwest, but not dipping down over California.”
It’s time to begin rain dancing, NorCal.