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Wet weather expected to return this week

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Wet weather is expected to return to the region this week, and for local firefighters, the rain couldn’t come at a better time. According to Jeff Carman, assistant fire chief of operations for the Roseville Fire Department, the long spell of dry weather has prolonged the fire season and increased the danger of wildland fires in the region. “We are definitely at a higher readiness level right now than we typically are for wildland fires in January,” Carman said. “It’s very unusual.” Roseville received just .16 inches of rain in December and zero precipitation so far this year, according to meteorologist Johnnie Powell, with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office. The amount of precipitation in December and so far this year is far below normal, Powell said. The average rainfall for December is 2.76 inches and 4.18 inches for January. But Powell says the lack of precipitation is no real cause for concern. He said while the region recorded the driest January on record in 2007 with .07 inches of rain, that month was surrounded by 3 inches in December and 5 inches in February. “There is always a dry month during the wet season,” Powell said. “Even in our wettest flood years, we’ve had some really long dry spells.” According to the National Weather Service, the rain is expected to return Wednesday with a 30 percent chance of showers by 4 p.m. and increasing to a 60 percent chance by 10 p.m. The chance of precipitation is increased to 80 percent by Thursday with rain expected to continue throughout the weekend, the National Weather Service reports. Carman said the fire season could begin much earlier this year if the region does not see a significant amount of rainfall for the remainder of the season. “If we were to go through all the months (without rain), as soon as it starts warming up, it would be fire season,” Carman said. “But it’s way too early to even talk about that.” CalFire reports that the lack of precipitation across the state has led to one of the driest winters on record so far. The statewide water content is at 19 percent of normal, according to the Department of Water Resources. While the long-range forecast calls for copious amounts of rain in the next week, Carman says combustible fuels are still dry and need significant rainfall to reach normal, safe levels. “Our message to the public is don’t let your guard down until we get some measurable precipitation,” Carman said. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.