Santa Rosa is well on its way to what could be its wettest year on record, with more than four feet of rainfall reported at the county airport north of the city — more than all other years save for two since 1904 when record keeping began.
Since Oct. 1, Santa Rosa has recorded 52.07 inches of rain, less than 4 inches shy of the total for the wettest rain year, in 1982-83, when 55.68 inches fell in the city.
Another storm is headed for the North Bay this weekend, and it might be just enough to push the 2016-2017 rain year into second place, according to the National Weather Service.
The second rainiest year on record was 1997-1998, when 52.84 inches fell in Santa Rosa. The historic totals cover a 12-month rain season, whereas the city’s current precipitation level covers just five months, with seven remaining in the rain year.
At least half an inch of rain is expected to fall in Santa Rosa from Saturday morning into Sunday, with about an inch expected in the coastal hills.
“We’re not really expecting that much rain, especially compared to recent storms,” said Brian Mejia, a Weather Service forecaster said about the latest storm.
It is coming down from the north and bringing a cold snap, with Sunday’s high in Santa Rosa projected to be a brisk 53 degrees — a stark change from Thursday afternoon when temperatures reached 68 degrees in the city.
Santa Rosa is far from the wettest place in Sonoma County this year. Cazadero has recorded more than 87 inches of rain since October, followed by Cloverdale at more than 65 inches, Windsor with more than 63 inches and Healdsburg with nearly 54 inches.
About 65 percent of Santa Rosa’s rainfall has come since the new year, including a record-breaking January, with nearly 18.96 inches reported at the Sonoma County Airport. February rainfall at the airport hit 14.69 inches.
The rainfall has filled the region’s reservoirs beyond their seasonal capacity, while triggering flooding and landslides, closing roads, and inundating hundreds of homes mostly along the lower Russian River.
In Guerneville, the lower river rose to a height of 37.8 feet on Jan. 11, the highest mark since 2006, when it reached 42 feet during a New Year’s storm.
In both January and February, rain fell more days than not in Santa Rosa and across the county, with 17 days of measured precipitation each month, according to the National Weather Service.
After five years of crippling drought, the storms were a relief for the North Bay and much of the state, where just over a quarter of the state — in central and southern California — now suffers from drought.
A year ago this week, 99.6 percent of the state was in drought, with the majority of the state — 61 percent — in “exceptional drought” or “extreme drought.”
You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeaWarren.