Despite trace of rain, December comes in as second-driest

  • December's paltry rain total, the second driest in history at .09 inches, may have received a little bump by the Friday Dec. 30 rainfall which created a puddle...from a downspout on Healdsburg's Plaza. Regardless, some Sonoma County communities are nearly eight inches below normal in rainfall this season. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

A sprinkling of rain Friday did little to stop this month from likely going down as the second driest December on record — but it was enough to play havoc with drivers.

Between 6 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., CHP officers responded to eight accidents on local highways, nearly twice the typical amount for a full 24-hour period.

Nearly all the accidents were weather related, including a five-car rear-ender that blocked northbound Highway 101 for 30 minutes.

"When you have a dry month and then finally get a little bit of rain, people seem to forget they need to slow down," Officer Jon Sloat said.

Certainly there hasn't been much chance to practice wet-weather driving this winter.

As of Friday, just .09 inches of rain had fallen in downtown Santa Rosa, the second driest December in more than 80 years.

Aside from 1989, when no rainfall fell in Santa Rosa, there's not a December on record that comes close to matching 2011 for lack of precipitation.

In 1956, the third driest December, 0.38 inches fell in Santa Rosa. Friday's rain, measured as a trace, did little to close the gap.

Blame lies with a high-pressure system that's been sitting over the region for weeks, forcing approaching weather patterns around it, said Diana Henderson of the National Weather Service.

That blocking system appears to eroding, however, increasing chances for winter rains in the New Year, which perhaps nobody would like to see more than the county's cattle ranchers.

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