Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Fresno nearing driest calendar year on record?

How dry is it in Fresno this year? The National Weather Service in Hanford shows the city has 2.32 inches of rainfall since Jan. 1.

It’s possible this could be the driest calendar year on record. I scanned the list dating back to 1878 and found 1917 with 3.91 inches. That’s the lowest one I saw.

The average for November is .64 of an inch. So far, Fresno is still at zero. The average for December is 1.02 inches.

Fresno already has 31 triple-digit days this summer

How hot has it been? Fresno already has 31 days at 100 degrees or higher this year, and the average for an entire summer is 36.

But the heat will have to keep blasting for Fresno to equal last year’s total — 48.  As I have written already, August was very warm last year with 23 days at or above 100 degrees.

There was one other thing I saw in the 2012 numbers that seemed interesting: October had two triple-digit days. I checked October data all the way back to 1996, and did not find a 100-degree day.

I have emailed the National Weather Service in Hanford to find out how long ago there was another triple-digit Fresno day in October.

Heat drama unfolding as big story in California

California heat and drought are becoming the story of summer 2013 as reservoirs drop and wildfires burn.

Fresno is nearing two consecutive weeks of 100-plus temperatures. The record is 21 consecutive days, set in 2005. Bakersfield has a similar streak, along with a 110-degree day on July 2.

Wildfires have blackened nearly three times more acreage than last year. The foothills in Fresno County around Shaver Lake are considered in extreme fire danger in the foothills this year.

Probably the most unique story so far:  a giant sequoia that caught fire in June 2012 and continued right through the winter. It’s amazing because Sierra winters can be brutally cold and wet at 7,000 feet where this tree lives.

The San Joaquin Valley’s notorious dirty air has been worse on other years, but it has exceeded the federal ozone standard 10 of the last 11 days.

Yosemite Falls, which usually begins dwindling in early July, is almost dry.  If you look around other Sierra web cams, you’ll see a very dry watershed.

But, here’s the kicker for the San Joaquin Valley, take a look at two key reservoirs: Pine Flat and San Luis.

Pine Flat Reservoir in Fresno County is down to 30% of capacity. San Luis Reservoir in western Merced County is at 20%. With most of July and all of August still ahead, farmers and small towns may get the worst of this summer.

Temperature records fell all over state

Meteorologist Steve Johnson, a private consultant in the Fresno area, posted a list of California records set on warm Wednesday this week.

It was topped by Fresno’s 85 degrees, which broke the 2007 record for the day by one degree.  Burbank broke its record by eight degrees.

From reading the list, it looks like 2007 was pretty warm, too. But there are also some very old records that were broken. The Riverside record was more than a century old.

Here’s the list, which includes the place, the new record and the old record:

Fresno,  85°  (84° set in 2007), South Lake Tahoe, 69° (64° set in 2007), Burbank,  93° (85° set in 1951), Sandberg,  77° (76° set in 2007),  Woodland Hills, 94° (92° set in 2007), Ramona, 86° (84° set in 2007), Riverside, 95° (90° set in 1902), Thermal, 97° (96° set in 1997), Alpine, 84° (81° set in 1994), El Cajon, 86° (81° set in 2004), Elsinore, 92° (88° set in 1926), Escondido, 87° (86° set in 1951).

If warm weather continues, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will come rolling down a little sooner than usual. The snowpack is about 60% of average right now — better than last year when it was about 45% as spring began in late March.