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Dry January Raises Drought Concerns, Precipitation Relief Not Immediate

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The nice weather in January is setting the wrong record.

From a wet December to a dry January, this month saw such little precipitation it marks the second driest January on record.

"We need 20 to 21 inches more of precipitation over the Sierra to close the season out to finish at normal," said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist and climate program manager for the National Weather Service.

In downtown Sacramento, a normal water year is about 19 inches, he says.

Currently, it's close to 14.5 inches.

The water year started off strong with the torrential October rain followed by a wet December. The National Weather Service says the two systems made roughly 80 percent of precipitation this water year.

Most reservoirs in the Sacramento area are above normal. Meanwhile, there's still a lot of water locked up in the Sierra Nevada that could trickle down into reservoirs.

But could February be better?

"We're really not seeing much chance of precipitation all the way out until the middle of February," Shoemaker said.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Water Resources will conduct another snow survey at the Phillips Station near Hwy 50 and Sierra-at-Tahoe Rd. The study is done to help predict the amount of water that will melt from the snowpack and run off to reservoirs.

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