by Elizabeth Weise
SAN FRANCISCO -- The city by the Bay awoke Sunday to a sound it hadn't heard in a long time—the patter of rain.
But it wasn't enough to end the three-year drought that is gripping the state.
As of 11:30 a.m. local time, just a quarter of an inch of rain had fallen in downtown San Francisco, said Ryan Walbrun, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Monterey, Calif. office.
Walbrun didn't expect much more to fall. "We're already on the backside of the storm," he said.
There's the possibility of a little more rain coming from a weather pattern that's a week away. But that's nowhere near enough.
"Ten storms in a row wouldn't help. We're at historical dry levels," said Johnnie Powell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
"It's the longest dry period we've had since records were first kept in 1849," Powell said.
The California wet season runs from December though March and typically brings 13.77 inches of rain.
So far this year 2.28 inches have fallen, Walbrun said.
For the entire month of January, just six-one-hundredths of an inch of rain fell in San Francisco, Walbrun said.
"We're so far behind normal that we're never going to catch up," he said.
Sunday's storm was moving south down the coast but was not predicted to bring parched Los Angeles any relief.
"They're really not expecting much in the way of rainfall as you get into southern California," said Carl Erickson, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pa.
California's winter has been so warm that in many areas fruit trees are blooming two or three weeks early. "We broke our all time high for temperature. In Sacramento it was 79 degrees on January 24," Powell said. "The warm weather is tricking the trees."
Those trees won't be getting a lot of water.
"We would need a couple of months where we had double or triple the normal amount of rain and snow we usually get in order to alleviate the drought conditions," said Brooke Bingaman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento, Calif.
That's especially true for agricultural areas such as the San Joaquin valley that depend on water in reservoirs for irrigation. "We only have a few months of the rainy season left," Bingaman said.
Powell wasn't optimistic. "It's not looking good. In fact it's looking real bad."