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Lodi sees unusual dry spell after wet winter last year

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Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:28 am, Sat Dec 17, 2011.

This time last year, rain poured down, rivers flooded and people were soaked.

Looking outside today, the sun is shining and leaves crunch under people's feet as they stroll around town, despite the chilly weather.

And it is going to stay very dry and very cold, according to Bob Smerbeck, senior meteorologist for Accuweather.com, a private forecasting service.

Smerbeck said while last year's heavy rain was one for the record books, this season's unusually dry winter weather in Lodi is also very odd.

"We certainly have an interesting situation here," he said. "It's almost like a waiting game to see if the dry weather will wear out. It will be like a broken record for a while, with dry days and very cold nights. But hopefully that will change."

The foreseeable future will remain dry as well, Smerbeck added, with day temperatures reaching the mid-50s this weekend, but nights getting extremely cold, as low as 31 degrees. Monday should warm up slightly, Smerbeck said, but Lodi temperatures will never peak past the high-50s.

The dry days are thanks to a high pressure system sitting offshore near Northern California, causing storms to basically wiggle around the region and into Southern California instead.

Smerbeck said that for La Niña weather, that was not necessarily normal.

La Niña is a perennial cooling of the Pacific Ocean near the equator that causes a jet stream to arc north. It is a temperamental occurrence in California because the position of the jet stream determines whether the state is wet or dry in La Niña conditions.

But Charles Hardy, spokesperson for East Bay Municipal Utility District, said the dry weather is not a bad thing, at least not right now.

Hardy said last year's incredible amounts of rain have left the water systems extremely full and that the little rain in November and the absolute lack of rain in December are not to be cause for concern.

As of midnight Thursday, the Pardee Reservoir was still 84 percent full, Hardy said, and that alone determined that the area would not have a problem with water supply any time soon.

Hardy added that the Camanche Reservoir, which is currently 61 percent full, is right about where EBMUD would like it to be — one-third empty — to allow for flooding space.

"If we were low this time of year, we would be concerned, but we are not (low) yet," he said. "If we talk again in four or five weeks and there has been no rain or snow, we will start to take a different look. But for now, it is just a dry start and we are in good shape."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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