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No Rain In Forecast; Dry January Returns San Francisco To Parched Conditions

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After ending last year with a series of storms that helped ease the grip of an extreme drought, Mother Nature has turn off the spigot for the San Francisco Bay Area, returning the region to bone-dry conditions.

No rain is in the forecast for the remainder of the month almost guaranteeing a top 10 driest January for San Francisco. The National Weather Service said that San Francisco has had just 0.61 of an inch this month.

The top 10 driest Januarys, the weather service said, have come in order 2015, 2014, 1920, 1976, 2013, 1984, 1852, 1985, 1991. This year's total would rank as No. 10.

But the wet weather in October and December has still left the region in good shape in terms of the drought. San Francisco total of 16.84 inches, which is more than 100 percent of normal for this time in the water year.

The Drought Monitor released on Thursday showed no changes in the state of the drought in the Bay Area, but officials also issued a warning.

"The dry January out West continues outside of parts of the Northwest and Rockies," officials said. "February precipitation is crucial."

Unfortunately, the weather service predicted the dry conditions would continue.

"No significant changes to the forecast over the next seven days," weather service forecasters said. "High pressure overhead weakens and drifts eastward over the next few days as an offshore upper low inches toward the coast. Conditions will remain mild and dry."

And the start of February is not much more encouraging.

"Tuesday and beyond is not looking good for precipitation," forecasters said. "Longer range model consensus show a pretty stout ridge developing off the Pacific Northwest coast. This ridge unfortunately looks to keep the region drier for the foreseeable future."

The dry spell has raised concerns among fire officials as a rare January wildfire continues to burn in the coastal mountains north of Big Sur. More than 400 firefighters have the 700-acre plus blaze 60 percent controlled.

"Pictures on social media suggest some pretty surreal fire behavior given the wet Oct and Dec that was observed across the region with multiple atmospheric river events," National Weather Service forecasters said. "Anecdotally, it seems as though the long-term drought is acting like a chronic illness where even recent rains and cold winter weather isn`t helping to keep fires from developing."

Wildfires this time of year have been a rarity.

"It's unusual to have fire this size here on the coast at the end of January," said Cecile Juliette, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "The fact that we had a fire this size is of great concern."

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