With more rain ahead, county's water supply may reach normal

  • Storm clouds pass over the hills off of Geysers Road east of Healdsburg, California on Monday, March 26, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

What a difference a month can make. On March 1, local officials declared that water supply conditions for the Russian River had fallen to "critical" levels following a near record-dry February and December.

Four rainy weeks later, however, supplies have bounced back to "dry" and may reach "normal" if enough rain comes before the next official assessment is made Sunday, said Don Seymour, principal engineer with the Sonoma County Water Agency.

"It's definitely feasible if there is a fair amount of precipitation," he said.

Stormy Skies


There's no mystery to the reversal of fortune. March has been nearly as wet as February was dry. Last month, 1.36 inches of rain fell in Santa Rosa, the ninth driest February since 1931, according to Press Democrat records.

This month, meanwhile, has been the 10th wettest March in 80 years with more than 7.12 inches recorded in Santa Rosa, 70 percent above average.

More rain is likely before month's end. The National Weather Service expects a front to push through Sonoma County on Saturday morning, dumping up to an inch of rain around the Santa Rosa area.

"The heavier stuff is going to be in the northern portions of the county and of the state," said Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the weather service.

The delayed rainfall doesn't suit everyone's purposes. Maryann Alexander, president of Windsor youth baseball, is hoping conditions dry in time for the league's opening-day parade and home run derby this Sunday.

"We all have our fingers crossed," she said.

But the recent deluges have been well-timed as far as the Water Agency is concerned.

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