California fall forecast: Rain finally on the horizon?
This fall may be warm and sunny, but winter's approach might just signal a break in our three-year drought.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - 15:19
STORMY WEATHER: One gloomy day on the Pacific coast. (Photo: ArielAmanda/Flickr).
Fall has always been my favorite season in the Bay Area. The last remnants of summer heat still warm the air during the day, while the gentle bite of winter chill creeps in at night. All the while, you want to soak up as much sun as possible -- because everybody knows that winter in the Bay Area means lots and lots of rain.
Or at least, that's what I've been told.
I moved to Palo Alto in the first year of California's three-year vacation from rainy weather, right after a purportedly intense El Niño in the 2006-2007 water year. Because of all the rainfall the Bay Area got that winter, my senior classmates had plenty of winter horror stories to scare me with when I entered Stanford in the fall of 2007. Yet the drizzly winter of '07 was almost laughable after a lifetime of being drenched by hurricane seasons as a child in Miami, and the "rainy" season of '08 was not much heavier. It was then that I learned of California's entrance into drought, and I wondered whether great weather in February was something to rejoice about after all.
It's impossible to tell whether this condition will end anytime soon, although there is one big indicator that it might. For now, this fall has been relatively warm and sunny, with the average temperature predicted to be 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month of October (for more information, see the rest of the 2009 Northern California Seasonal Assessment). However, there is rain on the horizon: this year marks the first El Niño that the Pacific will have seen since that fateful year in 2006. According to the assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this weather event is supposed to last through winter 2009-2010.
I can already hear the groans from my fellow sun-loving Californians, as an El Niño event means storms along the Pacific coast and generally some nasty weather on this side of the U.S. But let's face it -- it will also mean some much needed rainfall for California. And we're not the only ones who could benefit; in the Atlantic, it might mean a lighter hurricane season and a reduced risk of wildfires for my home state of Florida.
I love the sunny weather as much as the next person. But no one disputes that rain is equally as important for life -- and in California, we could really use some help right now.
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