Monterey Could Face Another Drought; January-February 2013 the Driest On Record
March 4, 2013
Dry spell is an understatement.
Monterey's total rainfall in January and February 2013 is the all-time lowest on record, according to Logan Johnson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas.
The combined total of 1.51 inches is less than one-fifth the normal level of 8.32 inches, Johnson reports. January only saw 0.87 inches of rain, and February logged 0.64 inches.
Salinas is looking only slightly better. The first two months of 2013 only had 1.60 inches of rain, less than one-third the normal of 5.09 inches. This year is Salinas' tenth-driest January-February on record.
Kevan Urquhart, senior fisheries biologist for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, reports that the Carmel River flows near Highway 1 dropped at the end of January to a level that could impair the migration of adult steelhead trout.
Monterey County is not the only parched region; rain and snowfall levels are at record lows across California. A March 1 press release from California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird warns that the record dry months, paired with below-normal mountain snowpack, could lead to another drought.
"We are urgently reminded once again that we all must focus on conserving water in our everyday activities," the release states. "We all can cut back on such things as lawn watering, make sure we fix leaky faucets, shorten our showers, and take other common sense steps to conserve one of our most vital resources—the water that we too often take for granted."
The 2013 numbers add urgency to Gov. Jerry Brown’s water plan, which Laird promotes as an environmentally sound way to build up a more reliable water supply. Brown proposes to store surplus water from wet years for use in dry ones, similar in principle to the Monterey Peninsula's aquifer storage and recovery program.