‘We’re over the big storm systems’
ollowing a wet winter which helped rejuvenate local reservoirs and bring to an end a years-long drought emergency for Santa Barbara County, conditions are expected to remain dry over the next several months.
“It certainly looks like we’re over the big storm systems,” Jack Boston, senior meteorologist with Accuweather, told the News-Press.
Scattered showers fell throughout the county Wednesday morning, producing less than a tenth of an inch of rainfall throughout the Santa Ynez Valley and just under two-tenths of an inch throughout the South Coast, county mountains and North County, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard. As of Wednesday, the county-wide percentage of normal-to-date rainfall was at 131 percent. The rainfall for the water-year, which began Sept. 1, 2018, was at 116 percent, according to the county Flood Control District.
Last week, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors declared the county of the emergency drought status over. County supervisors voted 4-0 to terminate the declaration of a local emergency due to the drought. The declaration was approved initially in January 2014 and renewed each year.
It has been a wet winter for the city of Santa Barbara, with more than double the average rainfall pouring down in January. The city also eclipsed its average rainfall totals for the month of February and March, Mr. Boston said.
In January 2018, the city of Santa Barbara received 2.72 inches of rain. The historical monthly average is 3.5 inches, though this year 7.36 inches of rainfall was recorded.
Trace amounts of rainfall were recorded in February 2018, well short of the monthly average of 3.96 inches. An estimated 5.27 inches of rain was recorded in February 2019, Mr. Boston said.
March of 2018 was a fairly wet month, with 5.5 inches of rain recorded. The monthly average is 3.16 inches and in March 2019 there has been 3.76 inches of rainfall recorded.
Forecasters are projecting this April will be “near normal” in terms of rainfall, with about one inch of rainfall expected for the month, Mr. Boston said.
Three more storm systems are set to move through California and the Pacific Northwest over the next week or so, but there is little to no rain expected locally. One weather models shows a system moving through the area April 5 and April 6 but the bulk of the rain is expected north of Santa Barbara County, Mr. Boston said.
“I don’t really see much of an opportunity for any real rain besides a couple of showers here and there in early April,” he said. “And the rest of the month is fairly dry.”
The average rainfall for the month of May is about one-third of an inch, and current projections show a “near normal” month. The June average is 0.07 inches and the current outlook shows a below normal month, Mr. Boston said.
“I think you guys have seen your wet season,” he said.
The wet winter has resulted in green landscapes throughout the county, but that may not last long, Mr. Boston advised.
“If you’re going to pick up a few more minor rain events in April that would help things stay green for a little longer, perhaps before it turns brown again like it always does,” Mr. Boston said.