Sunshine in forecast contributes to SLO County's dry winter

Sun, sun and more sun is in the forecast for the rest of this week, and the clear weather is actually contributing to making this one of the driest winters on record.

February will wrap up after producing less than an inch of rain, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said on Wednesday.

Though some storms were expected to occur throughout the month, the Cal Poly weather station recorded only two, totaling 0.77 inches of rain, he said. That's about one-sixth of the normal average for February of 4.86 inches.

Both January and February, typically the biggest rain-producing months locally, saw less rain than normal.

The two months had a combined 2.12 inches of rainfall recorded at Cal Poly (the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant recorded even less with only 1.54 inches total). Typically, January and February receive just under 10 inches, Lindsey said.

The rain year (which begins July 1 and ends June 30) has also been drier than normal, Lindsey said.

San Luis Obispo has received 13 inches this year, though the average is 17.36 inches as of Feb. 28. Though there is a slight chance of rain next Wednesday, March and April rainfall will most likely not be significant, Lindsey said.

And the likelihood of rain disappears as summer approaches. March averages 3.65 inches of rain, and April averages 1.71 inches. By May, the rains have nearly ended.

According to Lindsey, the dry weather is caused in part by an ocean water temperature cycle known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, or PDO. Right now, the PDO is in a “cool phase,” which tends to cause less rainfall along the Central Coast, he said.

Inland high temperatures will stay in the mid-70s through the weekend, with lows in the upper 30s. San Luis Obispo’s high will climb into the low 80s on Friday before tapering off into the 60s next week. Lows will be in the mid 40s. Moderate winds are also expected.

Rain totals

Rainfall totals, as measured at Cal Poly, courtesy of John Lindsey, PG&E meteorologist:

  • February 2013: 0.77 inches
  • February historical average: 4.86 inches
  • January 2013: 1.35 inches
  • January historical average: 5 inches
  • January-February 2013: 2.12 inches
  • January-February average: just under 10 inches
  • 2012-13 rain year through Feb. 27: 13 inches
  • Historical average through Feb. 28: 17.36 inches
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