Farm Press Blog

Rain and fog go hand-in-hand in California

  • Tule Fog stays away as rain fails to appear in San Joaquin Valley.


Trying to see if the weatherman was a glass half-full, or glass half-empty kind of guy, the psychologist asked him to say something about the current winter weather in Central California.

“Well,” the weatherman answered, “it hasn’t been foggy. In fact, it’s been one of the most fog-free seasons we’ve probably ever had.”

In typical fashion, the psychologist followed up with another question. “Is that good news or bad news?”

“Depends on your perspective doc,” said the weatherman. “You can’t have fog without rain.”

For those accustomed to Central California’s Tule Fog, this has been one of those years where the San Joaquin Valley’s ubiquitous ground cloud made fewer visits in late 2013 than the Jacksonville Jaguars made to the end zone during the same period. For many California locations it’s been drier than 1976. Long-time California residents know that as the driest year on record – until now.

It’s been so dry in California this year that typical Arizona desert dry-spots like Yuma and Phoenix have had more rain than some California locations. For instance, Yuma had more rain in 2013 (3.42 inches) than did Fresno (3.01 inches). Fresno can see nearly a foot of rain in an average season.

Not known for its tropical rainforest climate, Phoenix, Ariz., had nearly half the rain in 2013 than did Eureka, Calif., a coastal city that averages more than 40 inches in a normal season. Eureka’s total rainfall in 2013 was just over 16 inches, nearly 6 inches shy of its 1976 record of 21.71 inches. Phoenix saw 8.42 inches of rain in 2013.

Then again, it’ll never hit 120 degrees in Eureka. Good news for Eureka!

An hour north of Eureka is Crescent City, where more than five feet of rain is a normal annual tally. They fell more than a yard short of that mark in 2013.

We certainly can’t blame it on El Nino or La Nina. Those kids haven't been anywhere to be seen, according to the National Weather Service.

If the Farmer’s Almanac folks are right, the faucets should soon open for much of Central California as January and February are predicted to be much wetter and cooler than normal. Given that they were pretty close to hitting the mark on the region’s coldest periods being mid-December and mid- to late January (we had that big freeze in early December) there could be hope.


Follow me on Twitter @Todd Fitchette

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jan 3, 2014

On a more serious note, the lack of fog affects chilling hours and distorts and/or reduces effectiveness. Shade from the sun and wetness from fog are part of the chilling hour accumulation process and cold with sunlight is not the same as cold with fog and wetness. Also the lack or rainfall has left dormant plants in drought stress that has resulted in freeze injury, as we will see in the spring.

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