Midway through our wet season, our rainfall through January has been average — wetter than the past few years of our drought, but not the heavy rains promised by El Niño.
Shown above is the first bloom of the season from our Douglas iris, iris douglasiana, a California native plant. Taken January 31.
In January we received 3.56″ of rain, slightly higher than the normal rainfall of 3.06″. Since our rain year started on October 1, we received 7.98″ of rain, a bit less than the normal rainfall of 8.73″.
The average rainfall this winter sure beats the drought of the past years, but it’s not enough to break our drought. We’ve received 60% of normal rain since January 2013.
In January we returned to the pattern of above-normal overnight temperatures.
Urban water conservation continues
Urban users continue to cut back on water consumption. During our wet winter, outdoor watering is already low, so reducing consumption significantly requires changing how we use water indoors. This is more difficult than changing how we water our landscaping. In December 2015, California urban users reduced usage by 18% from December 2013, and Los Altos users saved 43%.
Local conservation continues to help raise the level of groundwater under Silicon Valley. The Water Tracker report of February 1 shows that the groundwater level is higher than that of a year ago.
On February 2, California extended urban water use restrictions through October 2016.
El Niño and the drought
The current El Niño weather pattern promises to bring above-normal rainfall to California this winter. In an interview, B. Lynn Ingram, a UC Berkeley professor and co-author of The West Without Water, predicts than an El Niño year is unlikely to end the drought.