Unseasonably dry weather so far this winter is leaving the area in an unsettled condition.
Officials from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the year’s first snow survey this past week, which prompted the neighboring South San Joaquin Irrigation District to consider an early start to the irrigation season.
It also has state and local fire officials concerned about increased fire danger. The lack of precipitation across the state has led to one of the driest winters on record. According to DWR, the statewide water content was measured at 19 percent of normal in the survey, with no measurable snow added in the past two months.
Officials said the drier than normal conditions, coupled with wind and low humidity, have increased the fire danger so far this winter. Last month, Cal Fire crews responded to an increased number of wildfires for a typical December.
“Fire activity in northern California during winter is very rare, where snow covered mountains and rain soaked hillsides typically keep the fire danger relatively low,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. “We will be monitoring the rain levels over the next couple months, as it will be an indicator of the type of fire activity spring and summer will bring.”
At SSJID, board members were slated to consider authorizing an early irrigation at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10 if some significant rainfall doesn’t occur within the next week.