California Rain Blocked By High-Pressure Ridge, Drought Persists
Jan. 24, 1992
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Blustery storms that whetted hopes for an end to California's five-year drought have vanished, giving way to a dry spell that shows no immediate sign of easing, officials said.
''Having what we do in front of us, I would say we're in the sixth year of drought,'' Dee Davis of the state's Drought Information Center said Thursday.
As it has been throughout the dry years, a stubborn high-pressure ridge is blocking storms off the coast from entering parts of the state, said Steve Starmer, forecaster with the National Weather Service.
A series of storms moved through Southern California this month, dumping rain and snow, sometimes in record amounts. But water officials said it was a drop in the bucket after years of drought.
The rainy season, considered to run from December to March, has seen only 5.55 inches of rain so far in Southern California. Although that is ahead of last season's 1.9 inches in the same period, it falls short of the normal 6.84 inches.
The weather service's 10-day forecast doesn't foresee any storms breaking through. January is supposed to be the area's wettest month.
Even if an isolated area of the state gets drenched, that's not enough to solve California's water woes, officials warn.
Most of the state's water, 80 percent, is captured by 20 major reservoirs in Northern California. They are fed by rain and by spring runoff from Sierra Nevada snowpack, Davis said.
January rainfall in the northern Sierra has reached 2.6 inches, compared to the normal 8.8 inches of rain. The snowpack has a bleak statewide average of 46 percent of average water content.
For the state's ''water year'' - which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 - rainfall stands at 12.6 inches, compared to the average 24.9 inches.
Davis said a final declaration of drought won't be made until the end of the rainy season.