Article courtesy of James Urton and Kim Smuga-Otto | January 18, 2015 | San Jose Mercury News | Shared as educational material
When Dennis Conta started building his dream house in Santa Cruz three years ago, he prayed that it wouldn’t rain much during the long construction process.
“Got to be careful what you pray for,” he mused Friday, nearly three weeks after the region’s last big storm, which drenched the Bay Area on Christmas Eve and gave residents so much hope that California’s historic drought was about to end. Now, many Northern Californians are wondering whether 2014’s water-laden finale was just a tease.
An unusually wet December has given way to a hot, totally dry January. And it’s creating angst among drought-weary residents like the 69-year-old Conta, whose house is still under construction.
Weather experts, however, say not to panic. They emphasize that it’s too soon to say that California is headed into its fourth straight year of drought. And they point out that a dry January is not out of the ordinary in a typical Northern California winter.
“A midwinter dry spell occurs almost every winter, and it averages 19 days,” said meteorologist Jan Null, owner of Golden Gate Weather Services in Saratoga. “Now if it persists on to February and March, then we’re getting out of the normal realm.”
The National Weather Service said Saturday there’s no rain in sight for Northern California except for some Sunday showers that will moisten Eureka and spread inland along the state’s northern edge. And longer-term forecasts, Null and other meteorologists say, are riddled with uncertainty, making it hard for water providers to set policies for the coming months.