San Francisco experiencing driest February in more than 165 years

California

Without a drop of rain this month, San Francisco is on the verge of recording the driest February on record in 166 years, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.  

Downtown San Francisco hasn’t seen any precipitation in 27 consecutive days, matching a dry spell from two years ago, forecasters said. That’s the 13th longest midwinter dry spell in the city’s recorded history.

The longest streaks happened between Christmas Day 2014 and Feb. 5, 2015, and Feb. 2, 1864 to March 14, 1864.

No rain is in the forecast for San Francisco through the end of the month – potentially extending the streak to 32 days. The city will see a 20 to 30% chance of precipitation next Sunday, NWS said.

Santa Rosa, Napa, San Jose and Salinas are also set to record their lowest rainfall totals since 1953.

It’s been so dry in the northern part of California this month that forecasters pointed out on Sunday that traditionally drier places like Death Valley, Las Vegas and Phoenix have all received more rain to date this season than Sacramento – which typically receives significantly up to five times the amount of any those places.

The arid winter conditions in February have also extended to the Sierra Nevada, which has seen a steadily shrinking snowpack.

By this point, last year, total snow accumulation was about 30 to 40 feet, the weather service said. This year: it’s been just 10 to 20 feet in similar locations.

Satellite images from NASA released earlier this month painted a dire picture of the mountain range, with the bountiful snow blanketing it last February giving way to sparse patches of white just one year later.

Data from Monday shows that the central and southern part of the Sierra are both below 50% of normal. The northern Sierra is faring slightly better at 54% of normal.

Compare that to February 2019 when the snowpack ranged from 127% of normal in the north to 148% of normal in the central.

The snowpack is a critical source of water in California, making up about 30% of the state’s supply.

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