DRIEST YEAR ON RECORD IS LIKELY JUST DAYS AWAY....
From January 1st through this Wednesday, only 3.49" of rain has fallen in Downtown L.A. at USC. An "average" calendar year receives 14.93" of rain. With less than two weeks left in 2013, there is a strong possibility that this year will go down as the driest since record keeping began in Downtown L.A. in 1877. The current record for the driest calendar year is shared by 1947 and 1953 when just 4.08" of rain was recorded (see image on the left). The most recent 8-14 day precipitation forecast for our area shows a strong chance of below average rainfall. This takes us through the end of the year. I think we will break the record.
The dry conditions are not isolated to our region. It is even worse up in the Bay Area. San Francisco International Airport has only received 3.38" since January 1, 2013. An "average" calendar year sees 20.65" of precipitation. The current driest year on record at SFO is 8.79" set back in 1946. This record should be shattered on New Year's Eve. Persistent, strong high pressure over the state has kept us dry for much of the year. This subtropical high has forced the jet stream (storm track) well to our north blocking Pacific storms from southern California (see image on the left).
Winter, our "wet" season, officially arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on Saturday, December 21st at 9:11 am Pacific Standard Time. The sun will shine directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn and the sun will be above the horizon for just under 10 hours here in L.A. So what type of weather can we expect as we head into our rainy months? The Climate Prediction Center's (CPC) precipitation outlook for December through February (see the image on the left) indicates that there is an "equal chance" of below average, above average or normal rainfall for our region. This season's forecast was challenging for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorologists because strong climate signals and patterns are absent. The attached video courtesy of the National Weather Service Office (NOAA) in San Diego breaks down the forecast.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/JPL) outlook on California's winter rains is consistent with the CPC forecast. Because the tropical equatorial Pacific temperatures are still running near average, anything can happen. When the waters are warmer than average (an El Niño), most winters in our region are wetter than average. Cooler than average ocean temperatures in the Pacific (a La Niña) usually results in a dry winter for southern California. Right now we are still locked in a "La Nada" pattern, or NEITHER of the two above phenomenon. Long range forecast models indicate that this neutral pattern over the Pacific will continue through the winter months.
Some of the wettest and driest years that we have experienced have occurred during La Nada patterns. Unfortunately, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook (see the image on the left) is showing that drought conditions will persist across much of the state regardless of what happens. It is important to note, it is extremely rare the we receive the "average" total of about 15" of rain each year or season here in Los Angeles. Typically we receive well ABOVE "average" or well BELOW "average".
Be sure to tune in for my complete daily forecasts Monday through Friday morning starting at 4:30am on FOX 11 or on our live stream here on myfoxla.com. Bring on the RAIN!!
Certified Broadcast Meteorologist
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