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Driest January On Record

Earth News: California, USA

The Associated Press

January 31, 2007
CALIFORNIA experienced one of its driest Januarys on RECORD, a worrisome development for a state that relies on winter rain and snow for its water. The state's snowpack is 57 percent below normal levels, and the northern Sierra Nevada only saw about 17 percent of its normal precipitation in January, among the region's driest EVER RECORDED. For Central Valley farmers, the dry spell marks another battle with nature after a spring that brought floods, a summer of triple-digit heat that scorched fields, and a cold snap earlier this month that destroyed much of the state's $1 billion citrus crop. Wheat growers in Riverside County may not even be able to plant this year. The lack of rainfall could also lead to more wildfires, such as one that recently destroyed multimillion dollar homes in Malibu. "It's very atypical to have a January fire." California typically gets about 80 percent of its rainfall during the winter, but cities statewide reported significantly less than that in January. Sacramento recorded its driest January since it began keeping records in the mid-1800s. The city only saw 0.07 inches of rain - less than 2 percent of its 4.15 inches it typically gets in January. "It's weird. Usually January is a wet and cloudy month. It's been clear and dry and cold." Los Angeles recorded 0.19 inches of rain, compared with the 3.33 inches it sees in an average year. The city is on track to having its driest year ever, receiving only about 20 percent of the rainfall expected at this time of year.

Additional Reports
OREGON - this January will rank as the driest on RECORD at the Baker City Municipal Airport. This January has, in fact, quite a lot more in common with July than is customary. Precipitation fell on just two days: .08 on Jan. 3, and .03 on Jan. 20.
EUROPE - Many European countries had their WARMEST JANUARY SINCE RECORDS BEGAN, weather offices said on Wednesday, bringing Dutch daffodils out early and triggering grassland fires in Hungary. In the Netherlands, January temperatures were the highest since they were first measured in 1706. January was set to be the warmest on record in Swiss cities and in most parts of Austria. Hungary also said January had been its warmest on record. Britain said this month could be the second warmest, with 1916 holding the record.

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