Hot times likely ahead, if July follows tradition

After a hot June, summer in the Valley probably has the back of your neck getting dirty and gritty already.

But don’t expect July to provide much relief. The month is traditionally Modesto’s hottest of the year, with average daily temperatures at 94 degrees, according to data from the Modesto Irrigation District. Forecasters are predicting a warm Fourth of July holiday weekend, with temperatures expected to climb to 95 degrees on Sunday and 94 on Monday.

June had Modesto residents sweating through two extended heat waves in which temperatures soared, staying in the mid-90s and higher for six days straight, according to MID records. One started the month and the other closed it.

Still, while the state continues to struggle through its fifth year of drought, a stronger-than-average rainfall season has been a positive sign for Central Valley residents.

“The bottom line is we are still in an extreme drought and the long-term forecast indicates it will likely be a dry winter ahead,” said Larry Parlin, director of utilities for the city of Modesto.

The bottom line is we are still in an extreme drought and the long-term forecast indicates it will likely be a dry winter ahead.

Larry Parlin, director of utilities for city of Modesto

Parlin will update the Modesto City Council on Tuesday about the ongoing drought and conservation efforts. The California State Water Resources Control Board has rolled back last year’s severe mandatory conservation targets. In Modesto, that meant reaching a 36 percent cut in water consumption. But this year, Parlin said, that target has been moved to 25 percent through January 2017.

This most recent rainfall season, which runs from July 1 through June 30, saw the region receive 17.41 inches of rain, according to MID. The season average is 12.19 inches. In fact, this past season was the fourth wettest in the past 25 seasons. Modesto Irrigation District Public Affairs Specialist Melissa Williams said, as a result, the utility company has been able to more than double water allocations for customers, from 16 inches in 2015 to 36 inches this year.

“We certainly welcomed a normal year of rainfall following four critically dry years. However, we continue to be mindful of California’s dynamic weather patterns, the response of our watershed on the heels of consecutive critically dry years and the needs of our customers beyond just this irrigation season,” she said. “As always, we encourage conservation, communication, cooperation and coordination with our growers.”

Modesto residential and commercial water users still are under stage two drought water restrictions from the city. That means watering is allowed only two days a week between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. All outdoor water use is prohibited on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Marijke Rowland: 209-578-2284, @marijkerowland