Fueled by two wetter-than-normal months, Morgan Hill’s rainfall for the 2021-22 rainy season (which starts July 1 annually) has already far surpassed that of the entirety of last season.
But even with an atmospheric river soaking the region in the year’s final weeks, rainfall totals in some areas are still below average, and authorities caution that the state remains in a drought.
Local resident Chris Henry has taken precipitation records at his west Morgan Hill home since 1983. From July 1 to Dec. 27, 2021, Henry has recorded 15.67 inches of rain.
From July through Dec. 27 2020, Henry recorded only 2.35 inches of rain. Total rainfall for the 2020-21 rainy season was merely 12.02 inches, which is only half the local 30-year annual average of 24.64 inches of rainfall in Morgan Hill.
Henry’s records—which he logs on a Facebook page titled “Morgan Hill Rainfall”—match closely with rain gauges kept by other official sources. Valley Water’s gauge on Edmundson Avenue in Morgan Hill has recorded more than 14 inches of rain since July 1 of this year.
According to the National Weather Service, Gilroy’s precipitation for the calendar year totaled 14 inches in 2021 as of Dec. 19, well above last year’s total of 7.66.
South County’s two wettest months in 2021 were October and November, which were the only two that exceeded the normal average. In mid-December, a storm brought in roughly four inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm flooded roads and fields throughout South County, including properties and intersections along Little Llagas Creek east of Monterey Road.
However, it wasn’t nearly enough to make a dent in the county’s drought situation.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Santa Clara County is still considered to be in “Extreme Drought,” just one level below the driest category of “Exceptional.”
In June, the Morgan Hill City Council declared a “Level 2” water supply shortage, imposing limits on property owners’ watering practices.
Earlier in June, Valley Water’s board of directors declared a water shortage emergency and imposed mandatory water usage reductions of 15% compared to 2019 levels—equivalent to a 33% reduction from 2013 water usage levels.
On July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that urges Californians to reduce their water use by 15% compared to 2020 levels. The State Water Resources Control Board shortly after prohibited using potable water to wash down sidewalks, washing vehicles with a hose without a shut-off nozzle and other usages.
Henry added that the 2020-21 rain season was the third driest year in Morgan Hill since he began keeping records in 1983. By July 2021, he said, the moisture content in Bay Area vegetation was “at an all-time low,” resulting in more fire danger throughout the summer and early fall.
Michael Moore contributed to this report.