2019 will start out on a dry note

Tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to dip into the mid-30s by week­end

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Rick Hurd [email protected]­yare­anews­group.com

The fi­nal hours of 2018 will shuff le off into the his­tory books just as they kicked off the year — with a blue and rel­a­tively clear sky cov­er­ing the Bay Area.

But hold off on that talk about the dire need for rain. A week­long fore­cast for dry weather may be a fa­mil­iar one, but it doesn’t sig­nal a con­cern — yet.

“You look around the Bay Area, and every area is mostly about 75 per­cent of what would be con­sid­ered a nor­mal to­tal,” vet­eran me­te­o­rol­o­gist Steve An­der­son of the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said. “So even though there’s noth­ing in the im­me­di­ate fore­cast, we haven’t re­ally been lack­ing.”

In­deed, storms have proven to be more than just a once-ina-blue-moon vis­i­tor since Oct. 1. Two sig­nif­i­cant storms in late Novem­ber, as well as rains in early De­cem­ber helped the state’s rain­fall to­tal fol­low­ing a bleak Oc­to­ber.

With no rain fore­cast for at least a week, San Jose will en­ter Jan­uary with 3.48 inches of to­tal rain since July 1, about an inch be­low the nor­mal to­tal of 4 ½ inches, An­der­son said. Oak­land is hov­er­ing just over 5 inches, about 74 per­cent of nor­mal to­tal of 6.85.

To­tals for Con­tra Costa County were not avail­able, but An­der­son said, “you can safely as­sume that it’s also in that 75 per­cent of nor­mal range.”

Those to­tals are more en­cour­ag­ing than at the end of 2017, when rain­fall for the Bay Area was be­tween 45 and 50 per­cent of nor­mal, de­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion. Too, the state was only eight months re­moved from the of­fi­cial de­clared end by Gov. Jerry Brown of a state-wide drought that be­gan in 2014.

The drought was de­clared as the state en­dured four straight years (2011-15) with less than 20 inches of rain.

Ac­cord­ing to me­te­o­rol­o­gist Jan Null, the state re­ceived a to­tal of 23.26 inches in 2015-16, a fig­ure that fell within nor­mal, then was del­uged with 32.34 inches the fol­low­ing sea­son. In 2017-18, 17.53 inches of rain fell.

“In a sense, Cal­i­for­nia is al­ways re­cov­er­ing,” Null said. “It’s al­ways on that thin line.”

As for when the next rain­fall will hit, fore­cast­ers can only wait. A cool trough of low pres­sure is en­ter­ing the state from the Gulf of Alaska, but it’s not bring­ing any pre­cip­i­ta­tion, An­der­son said.

It will bring a much colder start to 2019. Overnight low tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to fall into the mid-30s in most Bay Area lo­ca­tions by Fri­day, and those cold tal­lies fig­ure to stick around through Dec. 31, he said. Ther­mome­ter read­ings were in the 60s on New Year’s Eve 2017.

The tem­per­a­tures in the Sierra Ne­vada will go even lower, and the wind­chill there will dip into sin­gle dig­its.

“It’s go­ing to be blus­tery,” he said.

And the air will be rel­a­tively clean, too. The Bay Area Air Man­age­ment District does not an­tic­i­pate the need for a Spare the Air Day in the near fu­ture; its five- day fore­cast show shows the air qual­ity is ex­pected to be be­tween good and moder­ate.

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