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Historically dry weather hurting local economy

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY- Humboldt County’s rainy season hasn’t been so rainy.  In fact, it’s been historically dry.  There have been about 24 fewer inches of rainfall in 2013 than an average year.  That means problems for some people in the area.

Life-long Humboldt County residents will tell you the same thing.

“I think actually the weather this year has been really beautiful. We've been very fortunate. We had a really warm summer. A lot less fog, not a lot of rain," said Paula Lourenzo, who lives in Loleta.

National Weather Service officials tell the same tale.  They say the jet stream has remained more north than usual over the last year.

"The storm systems move into Alaska or British Columbia and don't move down towards California and that keeps us dry," said Ryan Aylward, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Eureka office.

In Eureka during 2013, the total rainfall for the year is 4.5 inches fewer than the all-time record low set in 1929 of 21.17 inches.

"The main impact is the grasslands are very dry. There's concerns about how well they'll recover if we don't get much rain through the rest of the year," Aylward said.

The low rain total causes local cattle ranchers like Clint Victorine to spend extra money on providing feed for cattle.  He says the grass at one of the ranches he works at in Loleta is not as green or plentiful as years past.

"It's depressing in a way because the market is very good and you're looking to actually make some money and put some money away and once again this year, we're spending it all on feed so we don't have to try to reduce our numbers," Victorine said.

This means sunshine doesn’t necessarily mean bright days for some in Humboldt County.

"And then as people start to reduce their cattle numbers then that also creates economic losses to the county and I mean we're talking possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Victorine.

Officials at the National Weather Service Eureka office say their models show a likelihood of wet weather through mid January.