It’s six weeks into the water year and Crescent City is roughly 6.5 inches behind what would be considered normal precipitation, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Crescent City has had 1.58 inches of rain since the 2018-19 water year began on Oct. 1, NWS meteorologist Alex Dodds said. Although November is typically the third wettest month on average behind January and December, Dodds said that Crescent City may only receive another 1.5 inches of rain unless the last week of November is terribly wet.

During a normal year, Crescent City would have had 8 inches of rain since Oct 1, Dodds said. Typically 4.24 inches of precipitation would have fallen in October, he said, while November would see about 9.73 inches.

“We should have seen for the month of October and November combined just about 14 inches of rain,” he said Monday. “And the way it’s looking, we’ve already seen an inch and a half. I’d be surprised if we saw another inch and a half or two inches if it turns wet. That’ll put (us at) maybe 3 inches of rain compared to 14 inches for the year.”

Crescent City and Del Norte County are currently experiencing a moderate to severe drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. However, Dodds said he’s hoping things will turn wetter as December wanes and a new calendar year begins.

“As the forecast goes, the best estimates are that things will start to change by the end of the month,” Dodds said. “I wouldn’t hazard a guess that the month of December will end up with above normal rainfall, which for Crescent City normal is actually 11 inches of rain typically during the month of December. I would stand to guess it will be somewhat below normal, in the 5-10 inches range, but creeping closer to normal.”

Meanwhile, due to the exceptionally dry air, temperatures have been turning chilly at night, Dodds said. In the next several days, he said, inland areas could see temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s. Coastal areas could see overnight temperatures in the mid-40s, Dodds said.

During the day, high temperatures are expected to be near 60 and sunny through the week, Dodds said.

“All in all it’s looking like another kind of sunny period right into the beginning of early next week,” he said.

This season, meteorologists are expecting a weak El Niño, but Dodds said the weather phenomenon, which is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops near the equatorial Pacific tends to lose its influence north of Central California.

“If we have a more defined El Nino, the northwest up the Northern Oregon coast and into Washington will be dry and Southern and Central California will be wet,” he said. “We end up in between. It isn’t necessarily a harbinger of a particularly wet winter.”

Dodds said meteorologists are projecting near-normal rainfall and temperatures that are a bit warmer than normal due to the expected El Niño pattern.

Despite the potential for wetter weather as 2018 draws to a close, Sandra Jerabek, a naturalist with the Tolowa Dunes Stewards, said this is the driest fall she has seen in the 25 years that she has lived in Del Norte County.

In the dunes, mushrooms that would normally be abundant are scarce, Jerabek said. Lagoon levels at lakes Earl and Tolowa are under 3 feet, she said, and dune ponds and marshes have been dry.

“All the dune ponds I have looked at are dry. There are marshes that are dry right now that I’ve never seen dry,” she said. “Beavers and the otters that spend time or live in the dune ponds have moved overland to other water and that would be Lake Earl and the Smith River estuary or Dead Lake. We have a lot of beavers here and river otters in the dune ponds also and in the marshes and they’re dry.”

Jerabek said the mushroom species she is concerned about the most is a member of the bolete genus. Their season typically runs from mid-October through Thanksgiving, but they have been scarce, she said.

“It’s very disappointing, very sad and rather scary,” she said. “I have no doubt that this is more extreme weather due to climate change. I don’t remember having a fall with as little rain or this sparse in terms of mushroom abundance.”

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