Wetter than normal winter expected in the Bay Area

((ABC7))
December 4, 2009 5:49:16 PM PST
December could be the start of a very wet winter.

"The word may be for this storm [that] it's really going to get us off to a good start for the winter season," says David Reynolds, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Monterey.

Reynolds says all indications are that we're heading towards a wetter than normal winter. And you can thank "El Ni?o," the weather phenomenon where water temperatures in the Pacific heat up along the equator.

"There is so much warm water underneath the surface that it's coming up to the surface over the next couple weeks... we may see it go into the strong category and if that happens there's a better than 50-50 chance that this would be an above-normal rainfall year," he says.

Typically, if an El Ni?o is going to have an impact on local weather, it starts in late December or early January.

NOAA is currently forecasting a moderate to strong El Ni?o.

Any rain would be welcome news in this parched state. Earlier this week, water officials made a dire announcement of the state's supply. They will only be able to provide 5 percent of the water requested by the Central Valley -- the lowest percentage ever.

"Our surface water reservoirs are extremely low for this time of year, about half of where they should be," says Wendy Martin with the California Department of Water Resources.

A look at local reservoirs shows just how low some water levels are. The East Bay Municipal Utility District is at 73 percent of capacity, Marin Municipal Water District is at 57 percent, and Santa Clara Valley Water District is at just 42.5 percent.

"It's hard to say that you could cure the drought in one season, but certainly if we can even maintain average to slightly above normal and have a good snow pack in the spring, certainly that's going to be good for the water supply," says Reynolds. "But we've been in a drought for three years and it's not always the case that you can cure it in one winter."


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