February and March are typically the wettest months on the Central Coast but so far, both have come up short. But KSBY News Meteorologist Dave Hovde says the lack of rain isn't necessarily a complete shock.
"I think the surprise of the year thus far has been what rain we got, we essentially got in one huge storm and then there's been almost literally nothing else,” Hovde said.
Even though February is known to be a wet month, this February and last have been huge disappointments with less than one inch of total rainfall.
Santa Maria should see about three inches of rain in February but it is well short of average.
Hovde says the area hasn't been that dry in two back-to-back February months in more than 150 years.
"Which is incredible because we expect February to deliver. The other month that can save us is March. We often call it 'March Miracle.' This March thus far is not a miracle," Hovde said.
He says even though rain is expected, whatever new rainfall the area gets will likely not be enough to cover the shortages.
With drier years, Hovde says this raises questions about infrastructure, water shortages, farming, ranching, and much more than just facing challenges from weather whiplash.
"In the future, to cope with this, it might mean looking at things like infrastructure, spending more money, expanding lakes, changing the way we manage water resources in the area, controlling growth, but those are big issues," Hovde said.
As of right now, water levels at Salinas, Whale, and Nacimiento reservoirs are adequate.
"You can move water around, which is what California is typically known for, but ultimately it all comes down to whether or not it's coming down from the sky," Hovde said. "That is the only motion that really, really can make a difference in California. We need more rain. There's no simple way to put it other than that."
Our rain season starts on the first of October and ends September 30 but rain averages go down dramatically in May when significant rain events are rare.