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Much welcomed precipitation still falls short of yearly average
The prayers for rain have been answered in Turlock as the much needed rain made its presence this week (File photo). - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Whether expressed by jumping in puddles or dancing in the rain, Turlock has welcomed some much needed precipitation this week and is looking toward the horizon for some more.

According to Turlock Irrigation District, the accumulated precipitation in the Tuolumne River Watershed from Sept. 1 to Dec. 4 is currently at 5.94 inches, which is 78 percent of the average amount of precipitation expected for that time frame.

Although this amount of rain is an increase from last year’s precipitation, TID utility analyst Jason Carkeet reports that the region is going to need a lot more rain to alleviate the state’s seemingly unending drought.

According to Carkeet, what TID considers an average year does not depend on the amount of precipitation the city receives, rather the deciding factor lies in the amount of accumulated runoff, or precipitation that is either not evaporated or absorbed into the ground.

“What we consider an average year, we put in terms of runoff,” reported Carkeet. “The average rainfall we get in the watershed is about 36 inches precipitation, which would give us 1,955,000 acre feet of runoff from the entire Tuolumne river basin.”

Although the region would need 36 inches of rain to get the average amount of runoff, Carkeet revealed that this is not the case following a dry year such as the one the city has been experiencing.

“After a dry year, you’re going to need more,” said Carkeet. “Following a dry year, some of the water that would otherwise result in immediate runoff goes to recharging the ground and hydrating vegetation.”

To achieve the average year’s amount of runoff of 1,955,000 acre feet, the region would need to experience anywhere between 35 to 40 inches of precipitation, which is nearly equivalent to the average amount of rainfall experienced in the watershed throughout the year.

“In order to get the same 1,955,000 acre feet, we need a whole other year’s amount of precipitation, in addition to what we already have to get the average amount of runoff,” reported Carkeet.

As of now, rain in the region is far from over.

According to the National Weather Service, Turlock is set to expect additional rain through tonight, as well as a slight chance of showers on Monday.

Additionally, AccuWeather Global Weather Center reports a long train of storms that may potentially being six to 12 inches of rain to the region in the middle of December.