California Stays Rain-Free After Drought Emergency Declared

By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 21, 2014; 5:20 AM
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With no rain in sight for Southern California, drought conditions are escalating to a dire state.

Rain will continue to bypass California through at least Saturday despite some clouds occasionally passing overhead.

The closest the state will be to receiving welcome rainfall will be at midweek when a weak storm system pushes a few showers into the Northwest before dropping into the Great Basin.

Even if this system were to clip northern California, rainfall will be light and do little for drought relief.

On Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, California Gov. Jerry Brown formally announced a drought emergency, saying that the state may be in the midst of perhaps its worst dry spell in a century.

The fire danger grew early last week as Santa Ana winds swept the region.

In the Angeles National Forest near Glendora, InciWeb states that firefighters are gaining ground on the Colby Fire.

Since starting on Thursday, Jan. 16, the blaze has burned more than 1,950 acres. The fire was 98 percent contained as of Tuesday evening.

Smoke from the Colby Fire billowed into Los Angeles last week. (Photo/Reed Saxon)

On Tuesday, the Soda Fire was discovered in the Sequoia National Forest, 20 miles from Springfield, Calif. The terrain difficulty for containing the fire is considered extreme, while the chance of further fire growth is rated medium.

More than 665 acres have burned so far.

The fire danger is not as extreme across California since the Santa Ana winds have slackened.

However, gusty Santa Ana winds will increase some on Monday night through Tuesday morning and the fire danger will follow suit. Wind speeds at this time will average 20 to 30 mph in the mountains of Southern California with gusts to 40 mph.

The resulting warmth from the offshore winds will cause temperatures in Downtown Los Angeles to challenge Tuesday's record high of 81 F from last year.

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Despite being in the rainy season, the region has been exceedingly dry for a prolonged period of time and conditions are only continuing to worsen.

The year 2013 went down in the record books as the driest calendar year on record for Downtown Los Angeles.

The city has not seen any rain this January, a month when 3.12 inches of rain typically falls.

In this Jan. 9, 2014, file photo, a visitor to Folsom Lake, Calif., walks his dog down a boat ramp that is now several hundred yards away from the waters' edge. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

"Southern California needs rain and it needs rain badly," AccuWeather.com Western Weather Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark said.

Clark anticipates that the situation could have serious economic implications if it continues.

It is not just rain that California needs, but also snow in the Sierra. Runoff from the snow that builds up across the Sierra in the winter, then melts during the spring and summer and helps fill water reservoirs downstream in other parts of California.

According to the California Cooperative Snow Survey, the average water equivalent of snow in the Sierra on Jan. 16 was only 2.2 inches. That is 17 percent of normal for the date.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski contributed to the content of this story.

California Gov. Jerry Brown points to images showing the snow depth in the Sierra mountains on Jan. 13, 2013, left, and Jan. 13, 2014, center, while declaring a drought state of emergency in San Francisco, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. With a record-dry year, reservoir levels under strain and no rain in the forecast, California Gov. Jerry Brown formally proclaimed the state in a drought Friday, confirming what many already knew. Brown made the announcement in San Francisco amid increasing pressure in recent weeks from the state's lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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