Partly sunny

Parched December

  • Cliff Nakamura, a pipe layer for Ghilotti Construction Company of Santa Rosa is dressed more for beach weather than winter weather as he pushes his daughter Chloe, 3, on a mountain of ice, Wednesday Dec. 21, 2011. In years past, the construction company would travel to the Sierra's to bring back truck loads of snow for their annual Christmas party, but with a lack of snow this year, a Bodega Bay company shredded ice for them. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

Those wishing for a white Christmas this year — or even a soggy one along the coast — should prepare to be disappointed.

The lack of clouds in the past few weeks means this month is on pace to be the second driest December in the North Bay in 80 years of record keeping, with only 0.09 inches of rainfall measured at the official downtown gauge in Santa Rosa.

The long-term forecast shows little change, with only a slight chance of rain between Tuesday and Thursday next week.

Ghilotti Construction Company Christmas


That means the current total could stand, placing this month behind only December 1989, when no rain fell. You'd have to go all the way back to 1956 to find the next-driest December, when little more than a third of an inch fell.

The paltry total so far this month does not have forecasters scratching their heads.

The stretch of California that includes the North Coast regularly sees dry stretches of two weeks or longer during the winter, said Bob Benjamin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"It's not necessarily indicative of what kind of wet season it will be," Benjamin said.

Most of the region is at about 40 percent of normal rainfall so far this season. Since July 1, Santa Rosa has seen 4.25 inches of rain, with higher totals measured in the coastal mountains.

The trend doesn't have water suppliers wringing their hands just yet. Heavy spring storms tend to be the most critical in filling up reservoirs and replenishing ground water, said Brad Sherwood, spokesman for the Sonoma County Water Agency.

"We're not saying the 'D' word yet," he said, adding that measures to deal with drought would be taken later in the spring if need be.

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