The pre-Columbian California native people had a mystical and cultural relationship to the climate that did not involve measuring rainfall. The Franciscan fathers were on their own spiritual quest, and while they sometimes recorded wine production at the missions, they didn’t record the rainfall either.
The first rainfall measurements for the golden state were in 1850 when a couple of doctors who accompanied the gold rush began recording rainfall in San Francisco. One hundred and sixty-four years is a paltry database to gauge what is normal for a climate that has been around for the last ten thousand years, but it is all we have and we use San Francisco because it has the longest continuous record.
In 2011 we became concerned about drought in California and we started a graph of the driest years. Our interest waned as a reasonable amount of rain fell in February and March of the 2011-2012 season.
As you can see the 2013-2014 season is on track with the driest two previous years. It is tracking almost perfectly with 1850, much as 2011 tracked with 1897 until February. The driest year through December remains 1917.