Two-hundredths of an inch of rain.
That paltry precipitation on Dec. 20, as measured by the Modesto Irrigation District, is the only rainfall that saved the city from its first historically recorded dry December.
December usually is the the second-wettest month for Modesto. The average December rainfall is 2.10 inches, MID records show. Last December, the MID recorded 2 inches in downtown Modesto.
The good news is there’s rain in the forecast for Modesto this week. The National Weather Service says Modesto could receive between a quarter and a half inch from Wednesday through Saturday.
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A precipitation forecast map also shows Sonora and Yosemite could get from half an inch to an inch. Snow elevations will be high, generally above 7,000 feet.
Here’s the outlook for Modesto this week: Tuesday will be partly sunny, with a high near 64 degrees. Wednesday, there’s a chance of showers between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and then rain is likely after 5. The expected high is near 62. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent through the night.
Thursday, the chance of rain is 40 percent, before the day becomes partly sunny, with a high near 66. The chance of rain continues into Thursday night, which will be mostly cloudy.
Friday and into that night, it will be mostly cloudy, with a chance of showers. Friday’s high should be near 61.
Saturday and Saturday night also carry a chance of showers, with the daily high again near 61.
Sunday should be partly sunny and cooler, with a high near 59.
According to MID, which has been recording Modesto rainfall since 1898, Decembers 1999 and 1989 saw just one day of rain – with each tying a record-low total for that month of 0.01 inches.
There have been six Decembers with just one day of rain, the most recent in 2013, which saw 0.28 inches fall.
The season average rainfall for Modesto is 12.23 inches. The season runs July 1 through June 30. So far this season, recorded rainfall in Modesto is just 0.71 inches. The historical average by Dec. 31 is 4.31 inches.
In a study published this month, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed that the loss of Arctic sea ice could be causing dry weather patterns in California.
The study revealed a connection between Arctic ice loss and atmospheric ridging over the northern Pacific Ocean.