Storified by WeatherNation February 22, 2014

Rain Coming In Waves


From TPE Post, this image can sum up how dire the drought situation is in California.  River are running extremely low, reservoirs are drying up, farm fields are turning to dust, and marinas are left bare with boats sitting on top.  The state is experiencing an historic drought, the likes of which no one alive has seen before.  There was some rain that fell in across portions of the state in late January, and a more sizable rainfall came in mid February, but it only made a dent in the drought situation.

This is the latest drought monitor from the Climate Prediction Center with the image coming from   The water levels in Shasta Lake are so low, that ground that had been under water for a long time, is exposed, as boats sit towards the bottom of the lake.  According to the graph above, 24% of the state was in a severe drought a year ago.  That was the worst it was at that time.  Now, nearly 91% is in a severe drought, while 14.6% is in an exceptional drought.

There is a potential for rain to move into the area over the course of the week ahead.  However, this won’t occur until we get into the middle of the work week.  The graphic above from the NWS Sacramento office helps wonderfully to illustrate this.  There won’t be a steady, constant downpour for days on end, but rather, bursts of rain with some down time between each storm.  That is a good thing, since a prolonged period of rainfall can lead to flooding, especially on bone-dry ground that can only absorb so much rainfall at times before excess water starts to run off.  The ground has to be give time to allow the water to seep deep down below the surface.


This animation of the GFS model from Weatherbell, shows the waves of precipiable water coming into the West Coast over the next 8 days.  It may not be much, but any rainfall, at this point will be greatly welcomed!

There is a potential for those waves of storms to produce a good 1-5″ of rain along the coast, with the Great Valley seeing about 2-4″.


But will this be the trend for some time?  Will we see a prolonged wet pattern set up across the West Coast?  The answer is “NO”.

While the 6-10 day outlook shows above average amounts of precipitation coming into the West Coast, pertaining to the waves of storms coming in this week, the bigger outlook doesn’t keep that pattern in that area.

The one month and three month outlooks show we’ll be going back to below average levels of precipitation.  It may be a while before a long, and wet pattern returns to the California area.


Meteorologist Addison Green ~ Twitter:@agreenWNTV




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