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Rain spell in Marin eases wildfire concerns

  • Pedestrians stroll on Fourth Street in San Rafael on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Traffic heads north on Highway 101 in San Rafael as rain falls over the region on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • A stroll in the rain along Fourth Street in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • A jogger takes a photo of sunrise from Loch Lomond Marina as rain clouds loom in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)



A bout of rain in Marin took the edge off fire season on Tuesday, but the forecast is unclear on whether the weather will disrupt plans for outdoor Thanksgiving gatherings.

A cold front moved over Marin County late Monday, bringing overnight wind with gusts reaching 40 mph and showers that could continue through Wednesday, said Anna Schneider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

As for the holiday next week, Schneider could not confirm the prospects for rain.

“It’s too far out to tell,” she said.

With coronavirus infections surging, health officials recommend that holiday gatherings be small, outdoors, short in duration and observant of safety measures like masks and distancing.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, the 24-hour rainfall totals included 2.24 inches on Mount Tamalpais, 1.33″ in Woodacre, 0.99 inches in Olema and 0.39 inches in the Black Point area of Novato, according to the weather service.

The weather was a change local firefighters could appreciate, said Marin County fire Battalion Chief Bret McTigue.

“We’re getting out of the severe fire conditions we had here in Marin County a month ago,” McTigue said. “That’s great news for Marin.”

Soon, the Marin County Fire Department will start to cut loose its seasonal staff of about 100 firefighters, marking the “unofficial end of fire season,” McTigue said.

The Marin Municipal Water District’s rainfall total for Lake Lagunitas was 1.21 inches from July 1 to Tuesday. That total is 18.36% of the average rainfall this date in the season. Reservoir storage is 60.65%, down from the annual average of 65.20% for this date.

Jeanne Mariani-Belding, spokeswoman for the district, said reservoir storage as of Monday was about 93% of the historical average for the date. The district has seven reservoirs.

“So we’re tracking pretty well with the average and we hope to see more rainfall as we move into the winter months,” she said. “The lighter periods of rainfall early in the season don’t significantly impact our storage levels, but they do help reduce demand and help saturate the ground so that future rainfall will have more runoff that can have an impact on our storage. Every bit helps.”

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