Published Tuesday, November 10, 1998, in the San Jose Mercury News


Special to the Mercury News



YOU know the line: ''Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.''

Unfortunately, this column won't help either. But we'll try to make weather more understandable and even enjoyable. Twice a month we'll be here to answer your questions -- simple or complex -- about weather and climate. First question?

Q Who are you?

A I'm Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist and owner of Golden Gate Weather Services. I was also lead forecaster with the National Weather Service and recently retired after 24 years of forecasting California weather.

Other hats that I wear include adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University and director of meteorological services for the Western Disaster Center at Moffett Airfield.

But maybe the most important factor is I'm a San Francisco Bay Area native who has watched and appreciated the very special weather of this region for nearly five decades. My primary research interests are California climate with a special interest in the effects of El Nino and La Nina on rainfall.

Q Since you brought up La Nina, what's your assessment of what we can expect as we get into the rainy season?

A Unlike El Nino, past La Ninas did not send a strong signal about the prospectsfor the upcoming rainfall season in San Jose and the Bay Area. There have been eight La Ninas since 1949, and the San Jose rainfall has been above average during four of those seasons and below average for the other four. Long range forecast models from the National Weather Service coincide with these past climate records, and rainfall for the upcoming season is expected to be about average.

Q How much does it rain each year in San Jose? What about last season?

A On the average, San Jose gets just more than 14.5 inches of rain per year spread over 58 days, with 95 percent of that falling from October through April. January has the highest average rainfall with about three inches over 10 days.

Last season ranked right up there as one of the wettest in San Jose, since rainfall records began in 1875. The total of 28.89 inches fell just shy of the 30.30 and 30.25 inches in 1889 and 1982 respectively. Likewise, the February total of more than 10 inches was the third wettest in the 124 years that records have been taken.

Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist and owner of Golden Gate Weather Services, is a retired lead forecaster with the National Weather Service. Send him questions c/o Weather Corner, San Jose Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190. You also can telephone and fax them at (510) 657-2246 or e-mail them to

Copyright 1998, The San Jose Mercury News. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.