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Is There A Drought Developing For Central, South Coasts?

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With the spring rainfall season wrapping up soon, the Central and South Coasts are only at 20% to 50% of annual rain, setting the stage for another round of drought.

Rainfall has been between 20 to 50 percent of average for much of region.

It’s something that’s easy to take for granted. You turn on a spigot, and there’s water.

But, the Central and South Coasts may be headed for another round of drought. The latest federal drought charts show most of the Central and South Coasts are currently in moderate to severe drought conditions. Rainfall totals are 20% to 30% of average in Ventura County, and 40% to 50% of average in Santa Barbara County.

Tom Fayram is Santa Barbara County’s Water Resources Deputy Director. He says depending on how you look at it, we might already be in a drought cycle, if you look at it on a ten year basis.

While the rainfall season isn’t over, by this time of the year it’s rare for the region to get significant rainfall. Kristen Stewart is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Stewart says while there’s a chance of showers this week, and perhaps more substantial rain this week, it won’t be much. The rainfall season is essential wrapping up in the next few weeks.

And, because things have been so dry, if we got an inch or two of rain, much of that water would never make it into our water supply. Fayram says with the soil so dry, you need several inches of rain to create runoff for the region’s lakes.

The rainfall totals are stunning. In Ventura County, Oxnard has had just over three inches of rain this rainfall season, and Thousand Oaks three and a third inches. Santa Barbara has had 7.3 inches, and Santa Ynez 8.3 inches.

But, let’s put it in perspectives with percentages of averages for this point in the season.

Oxnard is 32% of average, Thousand Oaks 22%, Ojai 25%, and Fillmore is at just 17% of average, again with little chance of getting more significant rainfall.

In Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara is at 40% of average for the season. Santa Ynez is at 53%, and Santa Maria is at 57%. The bottom line is rainfall is way below average.

Fayram says while we may not be in drought emergency territory right now, it’s time to once again be thinking about the issue, especially from a long term standpoint:

Aside from all of the water supply implications, there’s another huge related issue. Firefighters say the dry conditions are setting the stage for possibly another explosive wildfire season.