Los Altos Weather: Warm, Dry February

Although this year’s El Niño promised rain, Los Altos, California, had little rain in February 2016. We received .38″ of rain in February, about a tenth of our normal 3.31″. For the rain year that started in October, we are 3.64″ below normal, and our three rainiest months just passed. Our dry summer season starts in April, so our drought will probably continue.

With the warm February, our bee’s bliss sage started blooming, and the bees love it. A hybrid of California native sages, bee’s bliss sage is a ground cover that’s especially beautiful at this time of year, with glorious blossoms filled with buzzing bees. Photo taken March 1.

February dry and warm

In February we received about 10% of our normal rainfall.

February rainfall 10% of normal
February rainfall 10% of normal

More important, our rainfall since January 2013 is 23.84″ below normal, or 57% of normal.

57% of normal since Jan. 2013
57% of normal since Jan. 2013

February was much warmer than normal. Our average high temperature was 68º F in February, the middle of winter! Our February high temperature and low temperature were both 6° F above normal. The warm temperatures increase plants’ need for water as we try to reduce water usage during our drought.

February highs and lows above normal
February highs and lows above normal

El Niño

In the article “Will El Niño’s punch return in March?”, a local paper says that high pressure off California’s coast is pushing storms to the north. This is apparently changing, because a big storm is forecast for this weekend. Let’s hope for the best.

In the meanwhile, as reported by University of California at Berkeley alumni magazine, “California’s Water System Leaks Like a Sieve“. “A 2011 report from the California Public Utilities Commission estimated that 10 percent of all urban water deliveries—roughly 840,000 acre feet—are lost to leaks annually.” We don’t know much groundwater is being pumped, and we don’t have systematic data to locate leaky pipes. We don’t know where repairs are needed the most. It’s hard to improve a process you can’t measure. The article proposes a solution to measure water flow and gather data, but there’s resistance to change.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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