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No rain in sight — and no reprieve for firefighters as season is uninterrupted

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 12:00 am

This week — and possibly the rest of the month — Mother Nature won’t be providing any help for crews that have battled more than 100 wildfires in California so far this year.

“What you see is what you get,” said meteorologist Ken Clark of AccuWeather.com, a private weather forecasting service. “There’s no end in sight.”

Clear skies and temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s are expected in Lodi through Friday. Evening temperatures should continue to be in the upper 30s.

Some clouds are likely to move in over the weekend, but through at least next Wednesday there will be little change to the weather experienced throughout San Joaquin County so far this month, Clark said.

Some forecasting models call for the same conditions, with no rain, to continue into February, Clark said.

This winter weather has far exceeded January norms.

The average high temperature for this month is 53, and the county is on pace for the driest January on record, exceeding a mark set in 1976, Clark said.

The last measurable rainfall in San Joaquin County occurred Dec. 7. Since the beginning of December, the county has received just 10 percent of normal rainfall, and 24 percent since the beginning of October.

As a result, last year’s fire season has continued without a reprieve into 2014.

Fire crews have battled 150 wildfires, which have burned 600 acres in California this month, said Daniel Verlant, spokesman for CalFire. That’s a 500 percent increase from the average through this point of the year.

This weekend, fire dangers could rise with gusty winds and low humidity expected in higher elevations, Verlant said.

“It’s the perfect recipe for wildfires,” Verlant said.

Typically, fire season begins in April or May, so to battle the early blazes CalFire has increased staffing. In Southern California, CalFire has retained hundreds of seasonal firefighters into the new year, and 100 more will soon be hired in Northern California.

CalFire is also operating equipment, such as fixed-wing aircrafts, that normally wouldn’t be in use this time of year, Verlant said.

Tips for preventing wildfires can be found at www.readyforwildfire.org and www.preventwildfireca.org.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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