Dirty air, dry times in December

Posted by Mark Grossi on December 12, 2013 

Reservoirs have been drawn down in the drought.


On Monday, soot and other particles turned the air "very unhealthy" -- euphemistic for "keep your kids inside away from the nasty air." It happened again on Tuesday.

The episode made San Joaquin Valley's air the worst in the country those days.

In addition to this blanket of haze loaded with soot and chemicals, it's very dry out there. That's a bad combination for people with sensitive lungs.

And the dry time is not too popular among farmers, who would like to see the two-year drought broken.

This dirty-air weather pattern usually means warmer temperatures and little rain. Fresno is getting close to a record for least rainfall in a calendar year.

The city's 2013 rainfall total is just 3.01 inches, according to the National Weather Service's stats. The record low is 3.55 inches in 1947.

Fresno's average is a little more than 11 inches in a calendar year.

December has been fickle over the past few years. In 2011, Fresno had a rainless December. It was only the second time on record.

Last December, the city accumulated more than 2 inches of rain, which was above the average of 1.77 inches. This month, the rain accumulation is only .15 of an inch.

A reader called and told me he was secretly pulling for two more dry weeks so Fresno can break its record for driest calendar year.

If I had a vote, I would choose a series of very wet storms until New Year's Day. And then I'd vote for more storms in January, February and March. Pour it on.

I can understand the reader's secret wish. We've come this far, why not get a record and make it memorable?

But I think farmers and people with sensitive lungs would breathe easier over the holidays if the storms start rolling in.

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