After what seems like an endless stretch of cold, clear nights and sunny, mild days we're on track for something a little more wintery. Nearly two months after our last real rain, the forecast predicts a decisive change in the weather pattern later this week. Three storm systems are lined up off the coast, each expected to drop an inch or more of rain on us. The details (click to enlarge):
As I noted in December, this has been an exceptionally dry stretch during what is normally our wettest portion of the year. From the end of November, by which time Paso Robles had received 128% of normal year-to-date rainfall, we're now at just 47% of normal. But these three storms could go a long way to making up the difference. We're expecting 5 inches or so, based on our history. Our location at 1500 feet elevation and just 10 miles from the Pacific means that we typically receive something like 50% more than the high range of the forecast estimates for Paso Robles.
Happily, after two wet years in a row, we should be able to withstand a dry winter. The feel of the soils and the look of the cover crops bear this out; despite the lack of rainfall it's wet just a few inches down. In low-lying areas, it can be downright soggy. The construction of our sheep barn, located in fairly deep soils just above Tablas Creek, was a challenge due to the mud. But even if the vineyard can withstand a year of drought, we'd rather it not have to. Plus, we need the rain to wash in the compost and the other nutrients we've been spreading on the vineyard. And as nice as it is to look outside and see the bare vines glowing in the sun, we'd trade it for the sounds of the creek rushing by. We'll look forward to seeing robin's-egg-blue skies, like the one below taken just a few minutes ago, in February.