The rain expected through Saturday will break a long dry spell in the northern San Joaquin Valley, but it will take a few more similar storms to bring rainfall totals up to average yearly levels.
“Certainly, Northern California is dry,” said Angus Barkhoff, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office. “We’re setting records here (in Sacramento) and in other areas for the lowest amount of precipitation.”
Barkhoff figures another inch or so through Saturday will help, and there will be a bit more rain through next Tuesday. But it’s still the type of dry year that happens only once every five to 10 years.
According to the Tracy Press rain gauge, the city has seen 3.01 inches of rain since summer. Statistics from the Western Region Climate Center show that the area usually gets at least that much by the end of December and often will get that much in a single month during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall, depending on the precise location of the rain gauge, is between 12 and 14 inches in Tracy.
It was dry enough through November and December that the Banta-Carbona Irrigation District has started sending San Joaquin River water to local farmers so that their almonds and other tree crops will have enough water for a healthy bloom.
“We ran for two weeks in January and had to shut off for a couple of days to do some maintenance work,” said David Weisenberger, the district’s general manager. “Right now, we’re planning to run through Feb. 16. Hopefully, we get enough rain from these storms that we can shut down.”
He said another inch or two of rain will get farmers through February, while the rest of the year will depend on how much precipitation ends up as snow in the mountains.
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