The dry spell will continue for the remainder of the week, with sunny skies and temperatures that could reach balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service.
As of Tuesday, .35 inches of rain had fallen during February at Napa State Hospital, according to the National Weather Service, which does not expect any more before month’s end on Thursday. This could end up being the driest February since 1971, with no rain in sight.
“It looks like it will be dry for at least the next week through Tuesday,” said Austin Cross, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Monterey.
This is a second ultra dry month of 2013. A meager .17 inches was reported in January, making it the driest January since 1976, according to the National Weather Service.
Grape vine budding usually starts between mid March and mid April. But this year, according to Julie Nord, an owner at Nord Vineyards Services, which farms vineyards in Carneros and Upvalley, bud break could start occurring within days.
“Everybody is watching the buds very carefully,” she said Tuesday.
Dave Michul, general manager at Beckstoffer Vineyards, a company that owns just under 1,000 acres from Carneros to St. Helena, said some bud break has occurred already in some Beckstoffer vineyards in Carneros.
That means the growing season — and the need for frost protection — will start early. Typically the frost season runs mid March through mid May. New growth is most susceptible to frost damage during the spring when temperatures are unpredictable, Michul explained.
“Everybody is sitting on pins and needles,” he said. “It’s very, very dry,” he said.
With low moisture in the air and in the ground, the risk of frost is greatly enhanced, explained Jon Ruel, director of viticulture and winemaking at Trefethen Family Vineyards north of Napa.
CalFire officials said it is too early to tell what kind of fire season is ahead. The current dry conditions, low fuel moisture levels and strong wings raise concerns, officials said.
CalFire hopes for more rain over the next few months. In the meantime, CalFire officials remind the public to create and maintain the state-required 100-foot defensible space around houses in wildfire zones.
Despite the dry start to 2013, the city of Napa’s municipal water supply is looking good for summer.
“Our local supplies are in as good a shape as they can be,” said Pat Costello, a water resources analyst for the city’s water division.
The city of Napa, which has two full reservoirs, also receives water from the State Water Project, as does American Canyon. The current State Water Project allocations for both cities should be adequate to meet local needs, officials said.