California should expect a ‘fourth dry year’ as drought persists and the outlook remains uncertain despite a warmer-than-average February, California meteorologist Jeff Masters said Wednesday.
The state should expect a fourth dry year from now until the end of the century, Masters said in a special weather forecast report.
But no one knows when that would happen.
“The outlook for the rest of California is still uncertain,” Masters said. “At this point it’s an open question.”
The state Department of Water Resources received more than 1.3 inches of rainfall from January through March, but Masters said that’s not enough to be considered an above-normal rainfall season. (The state received more than 100 inches of rainfall during the same period in 2003.)
The rainy month for April is March.
“We have some really cool days ahead of us next month, and it could get pretty warm in the rest of April. We just don’t know,” Masters said.
The forecast for April through September remains “at best, an ambiguous,” Masters said.
“There’s a possibility of an above average May. But we really don’t know,” he said.
While the state’s current drought situation is a good reason for concern, the upcoming spring and summer could potentially cause more problems, Masters said. The state expects the water resources department to issue its long-awaited drought plan on June 30.
The long-range forecast from the university is that the summer of 2016 at least could be above average, with normal summer temperatures in some parts of Northern California. The June and July heat and dry weather in Southern California could be moderate, Masters said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the current drought in the Western U.S. is the toughest between 1920 and 2013, with a 60 to 70 percent probability of a second consecutive dry year.
In the Northeast, which is experiencing its worst drought since 1875, the past three years of below average rainfall could