Rainfall in much of North Kitsap has been falling at record rates since the beginning of the so-called water year, which begins in October. If you live in Kingston, January’s rainfall is running well above records kept since 1993 by the Kitsap Public Utility District.
For the month of January, 9.4 inches has fallen in Kingston so far. That is more rainfall this January than during any January in the 23-year record. The previous high in Kingston for the month of January was 8.3 inches in 2006.
As you can see from the chart, this year’s rainfall in Kingston (blue line) was tracking slightly above the record until early December, when it took off at a higher rate. January burst forth at an even higher rate.
The pattern was similar for Hansville to the north, where rains have been falling hard. Extremely high rainfall in November of 2010 established a record for that year that will be difficult to beat in our northernmost community.
So far this year, Poulsbo (KPUD office) has been tracking the maximum water year fairly closely since October. January 2016 is the wettest recorded at this site. So far in January, it has recorded 11.6 inches. The previous high, 11.2 inches, was recorded in 1998. Thanks to Mark Morgan at the PUD for this analysis.
Central Kitsap near Bremerton caught up with the maximum water year this past week. And Holly lags behind the maximum water year of 1999 but well above the 26-year average.
If you haven’t noticed, the Kitsap Peninsula is a rather strange place for measuring the rain. Historically the northern tip gets about half the annual rainfall as the southwest part.
For the Pacific region as a whole. the well-publicized El Niño effect has grown stronger, becoming one of the strongest El Niño years since at least the 1950s. But that is about to change. Based on sea surface temperatures, we have just passed the peak of the El Niño, and most models suggest that ocean conditions will transition to a neutral pattern by summer. See El Niño forecast graph and the narrative by the Climate Prediction Center (PDF 707 kb).
According to the CPC report, “El Niño has already produced significant global impacts and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months.”
According to predictions, temperatures should remain above average for at least the next three months. Meanwhile, precipitation is expected to continue above average for the next week or so, decline to average in about a month, then remain below average until at least the first part of May. For a quick look at this graphically, check out the interactive display.
Meanwhile, as the Northwest and Great Lakes regions experience drier than average conditions over the next few months, California and the Southwest states, along with Florida and the Gulf states, will see above-average rainfall.
As observed by the Climate Prediction Center:
“Since we are now past the peak of the El Niño event in terms of SST anomalies, the relevant questions relate to how quickly the event decays and whether we see a transition to La Niña, which frequently follows on the heels of El Niño event, the CPC SST consolidation forecasts a return to neutral conditions by May-June-July and a 79 percent chance of La Niña by next winter.”
The following video describes the current El Niño conditions.