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2020 Brought First San Francisco Rain-Free February Since 1864

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) -- Midnight closed out the first rain-free February in San Francisco since the Civil War, according to the National Weather Service's Bay Area office.

A light dusting of snow and sprinkles of rain reappeared in California on Sunday, the first day of March, after the driest February on record for much of the state.

Neither downtown Sacramento nor downtown San Francisco recorded a drop of rain for the month, according to the NWS.

"Pretty remarkable. We've never had a dry February on record," NWS meteorologist Cory Mueller said about the state capital. Records go back to 1878, Mueller added.

An hour later another tweet reported light rain starting in North Bay mountains, as part of a system that dumped several inches of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

That same system is expected to bring snow to elevations as low as 3,000 feet in the mountains north and east of Los Angeles. Driving conditions on the Grapevine section of Interstate 5 could become hazardous due to ice and wind, authorities warned.

Less than a quarter-inch of rain is expected across the southland, according to the weather service.

This year's dry start has officials bracing for the possibility of an early and more intense wildfire season.

Drought has expanded from just under 10 percent of the state in mid-February to nearly a quarter, mainly in central California, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor map made public last week. The map shows another 43 percent of the state is now abnormally dry.

The lack of rain this year comes after a wet 2019 that capped mountains with snow, delivering water to reservoirs and helping to boost lush vegetation that can quickly turn into fuel for wildfires during dry, windy conditions.

About 75 percent of California's annual precipitation typically occurs from December through February.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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