Snow is scarce in the Sierra and rain little more than a memory in Santa Rosa this winter, but state and local water managers still aren't concerned.
At a snow survey site off Highway 50 near Echo Summit, at 7,600 feet, the official reading on Tuesday was zero inches of snow.
The most snow found by the Department of Water Resources survey was 7 inches at a 6,700-foot site, and the Sierra snowpack's water content was rated at 19 percent of the Jan. 3 average, the department said.
In Santa Rosa, the new year began just the way the old year ended, with a huge, persistent high pressure system shielding the area — in fact most of the state — from precipitation.
The dry spell poses no immediate threat to local farmers, but may be rattling nerves, county Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said.
"People are starting to get a little nervous," he said. "Everybody would feel better if it started raining."
The last time Santa Rosa received an inch or more of rain in one day was March 24. Since the weather year began on July 1, Santa Rosa got more than a half-inch of rain on only three days: one in October and two in November.
Measurable amounts of rain have fallen here on only 14 days in the past six months. December was the second-driest year-ending month in 80 years of record keeping, with .09 inches, all on Dec. 15.
Santa Rosa's rainfall total for the season to date is 4.24 inches, or one-third of normal 12.39 inches for the July-through-December period.
The high pressure system isn't flinching, and the National Weather Service forecasts a zero chance of rain in Santa Rosa through Monday, with daytime temperatures in the 60s, meteorologist Diana Henderson said.
Long range forecasting models show no rain through Jan. 13, she said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor last week classified Northern California and most of Central California as "abnormally dry," one step below a drought condition.
Impacts have "not yet become significantly hydrological in nature," the monitor's report said, noting that California's reservoirs are at above-average levels.
"Winter has just begun," said Brad Sherwood of the Sonoma County Water Agency.
The agency, which delivers water to 600,000 Sonoma and Marin County residents, draws from two reservoirs — Lake Sonoma near Healdsburg and Lake Mendocino near Ukiah — both with more than 80 percent of water supply capacity, he said.
The watersheds that feed those reservoirs get most of their rain in February and March, Sherwood said. Neither reservoir receives any snowmelt, he said.
Santa Rosa typically receives 18 inches of rain — more than half the normal 32 inches a year — in December, January and February.
Perennial crops like grapes and apples go dormant in the winter and are generally immune to the vagaries of weather, ag chief Linegar said.
But if the warm, dry spell continues, it could cause an "early bloom" on apple trees and grapevines, exposing the tender green plant tissue to possible frost damage, he said.
Folks growing shallow-rooted crops, such as vegetables and turf grass, may need to begin irrigating, Linegar said.
"I've gotta think we're going to get our rain," he said.
Despite the scant Sierra snowpack, state water resources director Mark Cowin said that reservoir storage remaining from last winter's storms should give the state "adequate water supply" this summer.