No, it's not just your imagination — this has been a spring like no other, in some respects. Tehachapi received 3.09 inches of rain in May of 2019, easily the rainiest May in 120 years of record-keeping by the National Weather Service.
These are the previous top five totals for May: 2.35 inches in 1977, 2.16 inches in 1930, 2.06 inches in 1973, 1.96 inches in 1915 and 1.53 inches in 1906. Our typical rainy season runs from November through April, and it is not unheard of for us to get exactly zero rain in the merry month of May.
And it didn't stop when the calendar flipped a page: thunderstorm weather produced a brief but torrential downpour on the afternoon of Saturday, June 1, with another one-third of an inch of rain. The following day was even louder, with more thunder and lightning, and a little more rain.
June, July, August and September are our driest months with typically no rain at all. The wettest June ever recorded was only .82 of an inch in 1993, followed by .80 in 2009, .77 in 1972, .66 in 1963 and .61 in 1934. Each of these totals basically represents a single out-of-season storm. If we get any more rain this month, as unlikely as it is, June of 2019 could also be record-setting.
Tehachapi's rainfall total for this rainy season now stands at 17.09 inches, which is about 150 percent of normal. Our rainfall average for many years was considered to be about 12 inches a year, but averaging in the number of drought years we've experienced in the past two decades have been dragging that figure down lower.
What constitutes the "hydrological year" has changed recently, at least according to one agency: after 130 years of record keeping, the National Weather Service in 2015 announced that it was changing the period. It previously went from July 1 of one calendar year to June 30 of the next year.
However, four years ago the NWS decided a single hydrological year would begin on Oct. 1 of one calendar year, and continue through Sept. 30 of the following calendar year. This put NWS records more in line with other agencies, such as the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and others.
Having two different starting and stopping dates meant that the precipitation numbers used by different agencies didn't align, which caused some confusion and disagreement among water managers. Using a single standard now — Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 -- has ended those inconsistencies.
However, some researchers who study long-term climate and weather weren't happy, because now when they compare historical weather years with contemporary ones, they don't actually represent the same months.
It seems to me that there's a simple solution: have a team go back and simply recalibrate the historical records, using October-September instead of July-June. It would only have to be done once, and then all the records would be consistent.
In any case, that's a record-keeping issue that doesn't have any impact on actual weather. The fact remains that we typically get all of our moisture from November through April, and this year has been different. California's drought is well and truly over for the time being, for which we can all be thankful.
Have a good week.
Jon Hammond has written for Tehachapi News for more than 30 years. Send email to email@example.com.