After rocketing to a prodigious start, the rainy season seems to have fizzled out. Forecasters say there is still time for things to turn around.
For all the doom and gloom prompted by clear skies, Matt Mehle a National Weather Service Forecaster, says a lull in the rains isn't unusual. "It's not uncommon for us to see a mid-winter dry spell, that actually is very common for the Bay Area. January tends to have that dry spell."
Persistent high pressure and a weather phenomenon more common in the summer have acted as goalies over the last several weeks, shunting incoming storms far to our north, Mehle said. "We did have a 'Rex block,' basically acting like an atmospheric traffic jam for the last like, two weeks, and that shoved the storm track over the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia."
That's not expected to change soon, Mehle said, but there are signs that February could be wetter.
"Unfortunately, the near-term outlook does not look that great from a rain perspective. The long range models keep most of the Bay Area dry looking toward the end of the month. Some of the longer range models do show a slight shift in the pattern to start off February, which may bring some hope to see a return of rain to the Bay Area."
There is one wild card out there. And it's a big one. Computer models, while great at predictions generally, aren't able to adequately predict atmospheric river systems more than a week before landfall. Fickle by nature, such storms can be game changers.
"All it takes is one storm to help bring our numbers back up, and that's what we saw back in October. We had that one huge atmospheric river and that pushed many of our sites well above normal, some of them close to their seasonal averages."