We had 1.53 inches of rain yesterday, bringing our January total to 6.31 inches (Normal January rainfall averages 3.98 inches. January rainfall for big El Niño years averages 5.60 inches).
So not only did we get more rain than usual in January, be got more rain than we usually get in a big El Niño year.
The standard deviation for rainfall in January is 4.13 inches so, although it seems like a lot, this year is well within one standard deviation of the average.
But we had almost no rain before January — .86 inches between 1 Sept and 31 Dec. Normally we get 5.5 inches, and in big El Niño years we average 9.35 inches in that period.
The result is that in spite of a wet January we are about 2.5 inches below average for the year. Year to date rain has been 7.18 inches for 2015-2016 against an average of 9.63 inches, and an El Niño average of 14.97.
We’ve had less than half the rainfall we expect for a big El Niño year, and only three quarters the rainfall we’d expect for a normal year.
Compared to the last 4 years of drought this year is wetter than 2 and drier than 2. We got about as much rain this January as we did in December of 2014. This year looks like a continuation of the drought so far.
The forecast says no rain for the next 10 days.
Now some plants don’t seem to care, particularly the annuals. They poke up their little forbs as soon as the rains come, and don’t care what happened before that.
But many shrubs are not happy.
The currants (Ribes malvaeceum), which normally start blooming in October, had a bad year. A few did start in October, but it was so dry after that that the buds shriveled on the plants and no others joined them. After the rains in early January a few more came out, but most plants are left with dead buds and no sign of blooms.
The manzanitas have not bloomed yet. Great Berry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca) is normally in full bloom around the new year. This year, nothing. Eastwood’s Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa) which normally starts at the end of January hasn’t done anything either, I can’t even find buds. I was initially cheered to find a Refugio Manzanita blooming in December, but closer examination revealed only one in bloom. And only one, the same one, was blooming in January.
The cherries should have started, but haven’t.
Most disturbing, Bigpod Ceanothus (Ceanothus megacarpus), the plant which paints our hillsides white in January and February, normally starts blooming in late December. There’s no trace of a bloom as yet, not even a bud. In 2014 bigpod started blooming in December, stopped in February and restarted in March (that year the only rain was at the end of February). But this year, nothing. I’ve seen none of the other Ceanothuses either, and they should be out by now too, though bigpod is usually the first.
The bigpod are always blooming by the end of January (at least in my limited data). In all four of the past drought years they have done so too. Perhaps they need rain between Sept and December?