Grimes acknowledged that it has been an unusually dry year so far — Nov. 19 was last time any of the water district's reservoirs collected any significant amount of precipitation. And with each passing dry day, it becomes more likely that 2012 will be a particularly dry year. All the same, he said, it is too early to make meaningful predictions or to say that we are at the beginning of a long-term trend.
"We don't know how much rain we'll get for the rest of January, February or March," Grimes said. "It's too early to make any pronouncements that it's a dry year, a wet year or an average year."
The water district spokesman also cautioned against attributing the two months of dry weather to global climate change, noting that it is natural to have variation in winter weather. In fact, he observed, it is precisely that natural variation in weather patterns that is helping the state manage this year's dearth of precipitation.
The 2010-11 rainy season, which ended Sept. 30, soaked the state, filling reservoirs to the brim and leaving California with a very bountiful snowpack.
"Last year was a very good year," Grimes said. "The statewide reservoirs are in very good shape and our groundwater is in good shape." If last year had been a dry year, then locals would have likely already seen the district bolstering its conservation campaign, a prospect Santa Clara Valley Water has not considered this season, he added.
Weather forecasters are predicting a storm forming in the Pacific will bring wet weather to the Bay Area this week. Rains will do much to clean the region's smoggy air and bring up temperatures, but according to Grimes it will take a series of wet days before local reservoirs begin taking on more water.
"Because it's been so dry and the ground is so parched, it will take quite a bit of rain before we see any run off into our reservoirs," Grimes said.
Though drought is not currently a threat, Grimes said, "We look at conservation as a way of life. Every drop we save today is there for us if we happen to be entering another series of dry years."
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