Between January 1 and February 26, just 0.65 inches of rain have fallen in San Francisco — about 8% of the usual average rainfall observed during the same time period. And if the city doesn't receive any rain by Monday, it will beat the 1852 record for driest January-February stretch ever recorded in SF.
By now, San Francisco should've received somewhere between six and nine inches of rain for this calendar year. Though the last few years have proven drier than normal for the January and February months — both 2020 and 2019 saw less than five inches of precipitation during this time, for example — 2022 is off to a record-breaking start. But in the worst way possible... with "extreme drought" conditions returning to much of the Bay Area.
February 22 #DroughtMonitor: Moderate to exceptional drought covers 48.2% of the United States including Puerto Rico. Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 150 million people—about 48.2% of the population. https://t.co/hs7rCpQMsY pic.twitter.com/HjVQW1gUoe— NOAA NCEI (@NOAANCEI) February 25, 2022
In a report from SFGate, the National Weather Service noted that less than an inch of rain has fallen in the City By the Bay over the past two months, effectively snuffing out much of the hope that the year could see drought conditions improve. Moreover: If this dry spell is to continue (which it likely will), SF will enter March having observed its driest January and February months since the Gold Rush.
"For the most part, we're not looking at much precipitation forecast in our area," said Drew Peterson, a forecaster with the weather service. At the moment, a slew of strong storms are lining up along the West Coast, but meteorologists are saying that the "moisture-rich atmospheric rivers" won't reach the San Francisco Bay Area. Whatever chances of rain we might have over the next week will only be in the form of light sprinkles."
"We have some days where there's a chance of rain, but it's been wavering back and forth," Peterson continued to the digital news outlet. "Our confidence is pretty low on seeing pretty much anything from that. Right now, the forecast is primarily dry."
Just two months ago, San Francisco observed its wettest fall/early-winter season since 1983. During that period, 15.04 inches of rain fell from October 1 to December 26 in the city. Similar record-breaking rainfalls were observed elsewhere in the Bay Area, affording much of the region enough precipitation to lift it out of "severe" and "extreme" drought conditions. Reservoirs like Lake Orville began filling again, bringing them up to substantial levels.
Alas, this current dry spell has effectively erased much of those reversals. And, if the current lack of precipitation continues — substantial rain isn't forecasted to fall until March 10, at the earliest — another severe wildfire could be on the horizon. Again.
Regardless of any predicted rain, unusually cold temperatures are still expected to descend on San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area this weekend and early next week. So, yes: Bundle up... but you can (unfortunately) leave any umbrellas or ponchos at home, for sure.
Photo: Getty Images/FrankvandenBergh