January has ended on an interesting note. It was more of an extreme month than you might think, even though no records were set.
The month featured an impressive 14 freeze days, with 5 of those days down into the 20s for lows in Bakersfield. Through a period of nearly 2 straight weeks in the middle of the month, the San Joaquin valley endured night after night of hard freeze conditions. High pressure built over the state with very dry air in place. That extreme dryness led to daily temperature ranges of 25-30 degrees. On January 22nd, the morning low of 34 was followed with a delightful high of 74 degrees- a swing of 40 degrees. That is quite unusual for January, where the average diurnal (daily) range is only 17 degrees. Our daytime highs were 3 degrees higher than normal and our nighttime lows were 5 degrees lower than normal. In the end, our mean temperature calculated to 1.1 degrees BELOW normal, so January will go into the record books as a cooler than normal month.
Dense fog was only noted on 3 days in January. Combined with the 6 days in December, we now stand at only 9 dense fog days for the winter season. That is only 41% of the normal 22 dense fog days, and we are rapidly coming to the end of fog season. Finally, it was a rainy month with 7 rain days (normal is also 7 days). But they only rendered .83” of rainfall, 72% of normal. Bakersfield remains only at about half the normal rainfall for our water year which begins July 1st.
Looking ahead to February, there isn’t a lot of encouraging news. All medium and long range computer models are indicating below normal precipitation through the heart of our rainy season and temperatures that will begin to trend above average. With the Sierra snowpack currently running about 90% of normal, weak precipitation output through the rest of the winter will likely mean significant shortfalls in water resources through the upcoming summer.