Gilroy sees early signs of springtime

As spring approaches, cherry trees blossom near Garlic World

– The ice cream carts ringing in downtown Gilroy earlier this
week – a sure sign of spring – likely will be silenced tomorrow by
the rain before returning for a burst of spring this weekend.
Gilroy – The ice cream carts ringing in downtown Gilroy earlier this week – a sure sign of spring – likely will be silenced tomorrow by the rain before returning for a burst of spring this weekend.

Though today is forecast to be sunny in the morning, clouds are expected to increase in the afternoon with a chance of rain developing late in the day. Highs will be in the mid-60s, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday will be partly cloudy with a chance of rain and thunderstorms, with highs in the upper-50s and low-60s and a 20-percent chance of showers at night. The weekend is forecast to be clear with highs in the upper-60s to low-70s.

“We’ll get the storm out of the way, and that will set us up really nicely for the weekend,” said Rick Canepa, forecaster with the National Weather Service.

The recent weather means many nearby orchards are in full bloom, including Gary Gonzalez’s apricots in Hollister.

“They’re pretty much on schedule,” Gonzalez said of the blossoms. “There was a small early bloom about a week ago, but what we’ve experienced is pretty normal. You really want them to bloom as close to harvest as possible, because it means there’s less green fruit.”

This season’s abundance of rain also took local reservoir levels and rain totals past where they’ve been for the past five years.

According to measurements taken near Coyote Reservoir just outside Gilroy, a little more than 18 inches of rain has fallen since July 1 of last year, which marks the beginning of when annual rainfall totals are measured. The normal total for this time of year is a little more than 14 inches, said Santa Clara Valley Water District spokesman Mike DiMarco.

But according to the Chestnut Fire Station in southeast Gilroy, which also measures Gilroy’s rain, 22.2 inches of rain have fallen in the city this year.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, reservoirs systemwide averaged 84 percent of capacity, DiMarco said. Water from Coyote Reservoir, which is just below 71 percent of capacity, was being released into Anderson Reservoir, just above 89 percent of capacity. Chesbro and Uvas reservoirs are 94 percent and 95 percent of capacity, respectively.

The high capacities means good news for the long-term outlook of water supply, DiMarco said.

“It takes anywhere between five and 20 years for the water that’s in the reservoirs today to make its way into the groundwater basin, which is what South County residents depend on for their water,” he said. “So, it’s good news in terms of how the future looks.”

DiMarco said no more than a quarter of an inch of rain is expected on the valley floor as a result of the upcoming storm. The west slope of the Diablo Range – the hills on the east side of South County – is expected to receive anywhere from a quarter to three-quarters of an inch.

Gilroy resident John Scherrer, in his late 70s, measures rain every morning from two gauges in the backyard of his west Gilroy home. His records date back 130 years from original copies of The Dispatch that Scherrer keeps, as well as records from his days working at the Piters-Wheeler Seed Co. in Gilroy.

Scherrer worked for 30 years at the company, which started keeping rain records in 1930. Scherrer took over the duty when he was hired in 1950, and it’s stuck with him as a personal hobby ever since. The Gilroyan said he’s been busy this season measuring the rain, and he’s hoping for more as the spring continues.

“We could still get a lot more rain. March can be a pretty wet month,” he said.

Last March was unusually dry, with only about an inch of rain according to his measurements. In 2003, March saw 1.5 inches of rain, 3.5 inches in April and an inch in May, he said.

“I would expect we’ll be getting more rain this month, and hopefully we’ll get a little rain in April and May,” Scherrer said. “Keep that grass green.”

Gilroy’s annual rain totals

Totals are measured from June 30 to July 1.

Year Total inches Percent of normal

1999-2000 15.59 inches 80 percent

2000-01 13.62 inches 71 percent

2001-02 12.8 inches 66 percent

2002-03 16.69 inches 86 percent

2003-04 15.12 inches 78 percent

2004-05 18.39 inches 130 percent

Source: Santa Clara Valley Water District

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