January 2017 is Tablas Creek's wettest month ever
January 22, 2017
Sometime around 6:30 this morning, as the third of three powerful storms pushed through the Paso Robles area, our rain gauge for January passed 16.32" for the month and displaced February 1998 as the wettest single month in Tablas Creek's history. Our running total (with much of this storm still to pass, and 9 days left in January) is now 17.17", more than triple the normal average for January, our wettest month:
For the year, we're at 23.88", just about at our 20-year average for the winter rainy season and about more than 90% of the way toward the 26" that old-timers quote as the long-term annual "normal" for our pocket of the Paso Robles Adelaida District. You can see, looking at the last 20 years, that we're still quite a ways from matching our wettest-ever rainy season, 2004-05:
Of course, we're still only just past the midpoint of the normal winter rainy season. It seems like we'll get another inch or so in the aftermath of this storm, and February-June brings another 11.47" of rain on average. That would put us up above 35" of rain, on par with the last two wet winters, 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Even with the recent rain, we've got a long way to go to climb out of the hole the last five years of drought has put us in. Between the winters of 2011/12 and 2015/16, we built up a deficit of more than 54" (compared to that 26" average). So, it will take more than one wet winter to recover. But between the reports of greatly increased capacity in our local reservoirs and the news that most of Northern California has been declared free of drought it's clear that the rain has made a measurable difference.
As for the vineyard, it's wet. Springs have sprouted in low-lying areas, and enough water has drained to cause Las Tablas Creek to flow during more than the immediate aftermath of a storm for the first time in four years. You venture into the vineyard at peril of losing your footwear.
After this low pressure system passes through on Tuesday, we're forecast for a week or so of dry weather. That's perfect. It will allow the surface water to drain down into the limestone clay layers, and give the cover crop a week of sun. And then the long-term forecast suggests a return to a wet pattern in early February. That's perfect too. At this point, we're feeling good about where we are. Anything more at this point is gravy.