The overall nice, dry weather many Californians have been experiencing since the start of the year is about to come to an end.
A major change in the weather pattern across the U.S. will bring to colder and stormier conditions to California and the West, while the eastern two-thirds of the country warms up.
While the rain that is on the way to the West Coast may be disruptive to outdoor activities and put a damper on some people's Valentine's Day plans, it will help to put a dent in rainfall deficits that have developed since the first of the year.
Rain and mountain snow will first return to the Pacific Northwest this weekend before storms start affecting areas farther south through California next week.
Rain and mountain snow will also gradually spread farther east into the Intermountain West, Rockies and parts of the Southwest over the course of next week as well.
Parts of the Sierra could pick up a good deal of snow from this series of storms.
The rain and mountain snow will also be accompanied by much cooler air. Across the entire West, temperatures will end up averaging well below normal next week.
The Los Angeles area is expected to go from highs in the upper 70s and 80s this weekend to highs in the lower 60s late next week. Temperatures will not rise out of the 50s in San Francisco most, if not all, of next week.
Following the epic rain that flooded California and nearby states in December, dry weather has taken hold of the region. For California, January, February and March are typically the wettest months of the year.
From Jan. 1 to Feb. 10, 2011, Downtown Los Angeles has only received 17 percent of its normal rainfall. At Los Angeles International Airport, 20 percent of normal rainfall has been measured during this time.
The following is a list of the percentage of normal rainfall from Jan. 1 to Feb. 10 in other locations across California and the Southwest: -Phoenix, Ariz.: 4 percent -Tucson, Ariz.: Less than 1 percent -Las Vegas, Nev.: 1 percent -Palm Springs, Calif.: 1 percent -San Diego, Calif.: 10 percent -Imperial, Calif.: Less than 1 percent -Monterey, Calif.: 33 percent -Fresno, Calif.: 60 percent -San Francisco, Calif.: 16 percent
Despite the recent dryness, drought conditions are not being reported across most of California. According to the latest release from the U.S. Drought Monitor on Feb. 8, 2011, abnormally dry conditions were evident only across northern California.
Prior to the start of the year, rainfall from October into December 2010 was well above normal in central and Southern California. When factoring in these months, rainfall from Oct. 1, 2010, to Feb. 10, 2011, is above normal for most locations.
In the Southwest, however, a moderate to severe drought is affecting southern and eastern Arizona. Snowpack levels across eastern Arizona are below normal, the U.S. Drought Monitor reports.
Most of New Mexico is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions as well.
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