January rainfall was far below average in SLO, forecaster says

kleslie@thetribunenews.comFebruary 1, 2013 

San Luis Obispo residents can look forward to another warm, sunny weekend — and that is a problem.

There is a pronounced lack of rain this winter, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. meteorologist John Lindsey said Friday.

This January will go down as the eleventh driest January on record in San Luis Obispo, with only 1.35 inches of rain recorded at the Cal Poly weather station, which has recorded precipitation since 1870. Normally, January is one of the wettest months of the year for San Luis Obispo County, averaging approximately 5 inches of rainfall, said Lindsey, who is based in San Luis Obispo.

And Lindsey doesn’t expect February, typically another wet month for the area, to contribute much precipitation, either.

“There’s a chance of rain next Friday, nothing significant,” he said. “But then into mid-February it is looking to be a very dry month.”

February typically gets about 4.86 inches of rain, he said. After that, rainfall tends to taper off, with March and April totaling 3.65 and 1.71 inches, respectively.

“By the time you get to May, we generally don’t get any significant rainfall,” he said.

The county received decent amounts of rain in October, November and December, which gave Santa Margarita and Lopez lakes enough in reserve to make up for a dry couple of months, he said.

So far this rain year, San Luis Obispo has received 12.23 inches of rain, just below the 12.74 average through Jan. 31 (the rain year begins July 1 and ends June 30).

There is always a chance that a surprise storm system could develop, Lindsey said.

“Things aren’t dire at this point,” he said. “We could definitely catch back up in February and March. That’s not impossible, but we just don’t know.”

Daytime highs in the next week will stay in the upper 60s to low 70s, with lower temperatures by next Thursday. Overnight lows inland will stay in the mid-30s, while coastal lows will be in the 40s. Strong winds are also expected to arise next Tuesday and continue through Friday.

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