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Old 16-01-14, 13:53   #1
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United States of America Record Highs in California as Drought Worsens

The weather pattern along the West Coast of the United States this week is one that was all too common last year and led to a record dry 2013 in California.

High pressure in the upper atmosphere this week.

A dominant ridge, or area of high pressure aloft, is acting as a block to any potential for precipitation in the Golden State. Not only does this so-called ridge prevent Pacific weather systems from affecting California with rain and snow, it's also leading to record high temperatures and a high fire danger this week.

Extreme Fire Danger

Although much of the state is prone to wildfires now given the severe to extreme drought conditions currently in place, Santa Ana winds are making the situation even worse in Southern California this week.

A strong area of high pressure over the Great Basin will continue to produce gusty northeasterly winds in the mountains and foothills of Southern California through Friday. While they will ease somewhat from earlier in the week, gusts of 30 to 50 mph are still possible, mainly during daylight hours.

In addition, the offshore wind flow descending from the mountains into the lower elevations has caused the air to dry out, sending daytime humidity levels as low as 4 percent.

The combination of low relative humidity and dry vegetation will keep the fire danger elevated through late week.

Farther north, an enhanced wildfire danger also exists in the higher elevations near and north of the Bay Area and in the Sierra Nevada.

Red flag warnings are posted for the fire danger. According to the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif., the red flag warning issued for the southern Sierra Nevada is the first ever issued for that area in January.

Record Warm Temperatures

The area of high pressure in the upper atmosphere and the offshore wind flow has also pushed temperatures to record levels.

San Francisco International Airport tied its all-time record high of 72 on Tuesday and had tied it again as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. The record had previously been set Jan. 24, 1948, and Jan. 13, 2009. Records at the airport go back to 1945.

However, the downtown San Francisco high of 68 Tuesday was not even a daily record.

Other daily record highs were set Tuesday in Santa Maria (83), San Jose (76), Sacramento (66) and Stockton (65).

Wednesday brought record highs to some of the same areas. Record highs set on Wednesday included downtown Sacramento (69), Oakland (76), San Diego (81), Santa Barbara (82), Burbank (86), downtown L.A. (85) and South Lake Tahoe (58). San Francisco's record daytime high on Wednesday (73) also broke the all time high for January in that town.

Below is a look at where more records could be threatened the next few days.

San Francisco: Highs in the middle to upper 60s through next Monday. Current daily record highs to beat at SFO Airport: Thu (69), Fri (70), Sat (68), Sun (68)
Sacramento: Highs near 70 degrees through next week. Current daily record highs to beat: Thu (67), Fri (68), Sat (68), Sun (70)
Los Angeles: Highs in the low to middle 80s through the weekend away from the beaches. Current daily record highs to beat in downtown L.A.: Thu (86), Fri (90), Sat (95), Sun (92)
San Diego: Highs easing downward into the mid 70s by the weekend. Current daily record highs to beat: Thu (86), Fri (86), Sat (81), Sun (87)

Any Rain or Snow Ahead?

The prospects for any significant rain or mountain snow in California over the next seven to 10 days look dismal, according to the latest computer model forecast guidance. If this type of pattern were to persist through the final week of the month, many January precipitation records could fall by the wayside.

According to the National Weather Service in Monterey, Calif., San Francisco has never seen a January with less than a quarter inch of rain. With just one-hundredth of an inch of rain so far this month, this record could be in jeopardy. In addition, San Francisco has only recorded five days with measurable rain since Nov. 1 compared to an average of 30 days during the period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31.

January is one of the two wettest months of the year in Los Angeles with an average of 3.12 inches of rain. If the second half of the month finishes with no rain, January 2014 would join only four other Januarys in the last 100 years that no rain was recorded (2003, 1976, 1972, 1948).

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