In 2017, Bakersfield saw just about everything, from wet conditions to record breaking heat and even the possible return of the drought.
The National Weather Service released its 2017 year in review, which explains why 2017 was much warmer than average but ended with near normal precipitation.
We start with January. It brought record levels of precipitation across the valley thanks to two rain events dumping up to two inches each.
The winter we are seeing now is a completely different story.
“There are numerous reasons why things are different this winter from last December and January we saw a lot of atmospheric rivers which is moisture been blown in. This kept all of that moisture well away from us,”said Jerald Meadows, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The spring brought the return of dry conditions, very strong winds causing dozens of trees to topple over because of the record breaking rains just a month before.
Triple digit heat returned to the valley on May the fourth which marked the first day of heat over 100° in 2017.
“We are like the world’s biggest bathtub. The air gets in here and it’s hard to get out so you need something to scour the water or the air out,” said Meadows.
By the time June came around, the snow pack remained deep in the mountains. The summer heat caused the snowpack to melt rapidly, causing large amounts of runoff into the Kern River.
“The reason the Kern River was moving so fast for so long this year is because of all the snow pack that was in place. That’s why in Bakersfield we actually saw the current river with water in it even into August or September,” said Meadows.
Temperatures soared above 110 for much of July, August and the even the first few days of September, causing 2017 to be the second warmest year on record.
September also brought the start of wildfire season.
“Last year we had all that precipitation that grew up all the grass is very high. The reason we continue to see fires into October, November and December especially across southern California had to do with the dry conditions at stay in place,” said Meadows.
The warming trend stayed alive well into November with highs in the 80s, even up to 90 degrees some days, which is 20 degrees warmer than average.
We rounded out the year very dry due to a persistent high pressure system. But this also brought the return of freezing temperatures for the first time all year.
As we begin 2018, dry conditions should continue. We’ve already seen record breaking heat, but the weather service isn’t worried.
“We are definitely in a deficit from precipitation. Because we have such good water storage right now across the state from last winter we are actually in a pretty good shape. Now if these things were to continue into next winter then we might start to see more problems,” said Meadows.
The National Weather Service warns it only really takes one good storm to break flooding.
“Be prepared even in the driest of times we can have major flooding so always be prepared,” said Meadows.