AP NEWS

Snow, rain reappear in California after parched February

March 1, 2020 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Snow and rain reappeared in California on Sunday, the first day of March, after the driest February on record for much of the state.

Downtown Sacramento and downtown San Francisco each recorded not a drop of rain for the month, according to the National Weather Service.

“Pretty remarkable. We’ve never had a dry February on record,” NWS meteorologist Cory Mueller said about the state capital. Records go back to 1878, he said.

It was the first rain-free February in San Francisco since 1864, the weather service in the Bay Area said in a tweet Sunday morning.

An hour later another tweet reported light rain starting in North Bay mountains, as part of a system that dumped several inches of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

The same storm is expected to bring snow to elevations as low as 3,000 feet (914 meters) in the mountains north and east of Los Angeles. Driving conditions on the Grapevine section of Interstate 5 could become hazardous due to ice and wind, authorities warned.

Less than a quarter-inch (.6 centimeters) of rain is expected across Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, according to the weather service.

The dry beginning of the year has officials bracing for the possibility of an early and more intense wildfire season.

Drought has expanded from just under 10% of the state in mid-February to nearly a quarter, mainly in central California, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor map made public last week. The map shows another 43% of the state is now abnormally dry.

The lack of rain this year comes after a wet 2019 that capped mountains with snow, delivering water to reservoirs and helping to boost lush vegetation that can quickly turn into fuel for wildfires during dry, windy conditions.

About 75% of California’s annual precipitation typically occurs from December through February.