An unusually potent September storm is forecast to douse Berkeley this weekend.
The rainfall won’t be enough to snuff out the threat of wildfire this fall, and it certainly won’t bring an end to the drought. But by soaking a landscape that hasn’t seen meaningful precipitation in months, meteorologists say the storm could help reduce fire risk at a time of year when that danger is usually peaking.
The first raindrops are expected to arrive in Berkeley early Sunday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Dalton Behringer said, with “upwards of an inch” expected in the flatlands and heavier rainfall in the hills.
“We’ll see some good rain out of this,” he said.
The bulk of the rain will fall on Sunday into Monday morning, with the potential for occasional showers to linger through Tuesday. Forecasts don’t show any risks of destructive winds from the storm, Behringer said.
Weather experts have sought to tamp down optimism that the storm might bring a full reprieve from fire season, in part because another round of warmer-than-average weather is on tap for Northern California next week. It won’t be as hot as the heat wave that broiled the region earlier this month, Behringer said, but the high temperatures could mean vegetation that soaks up moisture this weekend might dry out again next week.
Still, he said, it’s helpful that the storm is arriving as we enter the height of fire season.
The rain is expected to help crews battling the Mosquito Fire west of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada. And forecasts show parts of the Bay Area that are most at risk from fire are set to receive heavier precipitation, such as the Berkeley Hills and North Bay mountains.
As for the drought, Behringer described the storm as a “one-off,” and said it’s too soon to tell whether California is headed for a wet winter or a third dry one in a row.
Featured image credit: Peter Y. Sussman