After nearly two weeks of dry weather seemingly put an end to hopes of a wet winter, meteorologist Hannah Chandler-Cooley has some words of encouragement for Californians dismayed by the lack of rain in January.
During the last three months of 2021, there were rays of hope the drought could be on its way out, as the rainfall totals for the Redding area stayed consistently above normal.
But the North State's weather fortunes changed with the new year.
As of Thursday, just over an inch of rain had fallen in Redding during the first 20 days of January, leaving the region stumbling further behind the normal of 3.73 inches for the date.
Jan. 7 was the last time raindrops fell on Redding. And no rain is in the forecast for the next seven days, Chandler-Cooley said.
It even rained slightly more during the first three weeks of January 2021 than it has this year. But Chandler-Cooley, who is with the National Weather Service, said it is too early in the rainy season to give up hope on wet weather returning.
Most of the North State's rain falls from December through February, and storms can continue through May. But dry periods in the middle of the rainy season are not unusual, she said.
"So it's really hard to say what it means in terms of the overall amount of precipitation we'll get this winter. We could easily have more rain come in the next few months," Chandler-Cooley said.
"So, you know, we're trying to not lose hope here," she said. "I mean, I know it's hard after how dry last last year was. But you know, just because it's drying out doesn't mean it will be dry for the rest of the winter."
The National Integrated Drought Information System predicts conditions to improve over the next 30 days, but beyond that, the drought is expected to persist into the spring.
While the Sierra Nevada received heavy snowfall in December and the Central Valley enjoyed higher-than-average rainfall, most of California remains stuck in a "severe" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Despite the lack of rainfall, drought conditions in the North State improved in January, according to the drought monitor. That's because back in December, the region was in an "extreme" drought.
In a severe drought, crop or pasture losses are likely, water shortages are common and water restrictions are sometimes imposed.
Things get worse under an extreme drought, according to the monitor, with major crop and pasture losses expected. There could also be widespread water shortages or restrictions, according to the monitor.
Last year's rainfall left North State reservoirs reaching their lowest levels since 1977, and during the summer some water agency officials in the region worried about running out of water.
While winter is the North State's wettest season, conditions haven't improved much for the area' two largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Trinity Lake.
As of Thursday, Lake Shasta was only 35% full and 55% of average for this time of year. Trinity Lake was 30% full and 49% of average for this time of year, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Damon Arthur is part of a team of journalists who investigate wrongdoing and find the unheard voices to tell the stories of the North State. He welcomes story tips at 530-338-8834 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @damonarthur_RS. Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today!
This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: With rains on hold, the future looks cloudy for an end to CA drought