Santa Rosa rainfall half of normal, but reservoirs' water supply above average

The calendar tells us it should be looking a lot like Christmas out there, but the North Bay's run of dry, cool and sunny weather invokes a mid-fall sensibility.

Since July, Santa Rosa has had about half the typical annual rainfall of 8.34 inches, only 4.15 inches as of Dec. 13.

"Our ground-water aquifers aren't filling up. The creeks aren't running like they should," Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Mike Jones said.

The pattern produced temperatures below freezing on Tuesday and prompted firefighters to conduct a late-season controlled burn last week because the paltry rain totals.

That may change Thursday when showers are forecast to bring an end to the three-week dry spell and bring a little snow to the Sierra.

Clouds are due tonight. They'll bring a slight chance of showers by midnight and a strong chance of showers by Thursday morning, said Diana Henderson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

"Not a dousing. It'll be quick. Friday it'll be back to partly cloudy," she said.

It's far too early to talk about drought-like troubles. Winter doesn't officially begin until next week. And a string of winter storms that began lining up in November 2010 and continued through the season made the 2010-2011 water year one of the wettest in decades.

That eases some of the pressure now. The lack of rain so far is not a concern in terms of the water supply, said Brad Sherwood, spokesman for the Sonoma County Water Agency.

Water levels at the agency's two main reservoirs, Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, remain above average for this time of year, and the bulk of the year's rainfall doesn't come until February.

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