Rain and downed trees in October. Snow in December. Two record-setting rainy days in January. The wettest April and May in 10 years.
The wild and wacky 2009-2010 rainfall season, which began last July 1 and ended Wednesday, is just what the water doctors ordered.
Downtown Modesto received 16.76 inches for the season, well above the historical average of 12.16 inches, according to the Modesto Irrigation District.
It's the highest total since 1997-98 and made for a watery end to the fifth driest decade recorded by the MID since it began keeping totals in 1888.
"This wet year is good as it breaks a three-year dry spell," said Walt Ward, assistant general manager for the MID. "More importantly, the wet winter brought a healthy snowpack, which is directly tied to our water supply."
Reservoir levels are up, with Don Pedro at 99 percent of its capacity compared with 87 percent at this time last year. The most recent snowpack level was the deepest recorded in four years.
Nick Pinhey, director of utility planning and projects for the city of Modesto, has had his hands in the water business more than 30 years. He was cautiously optimistic about this season's rainfall.
"If you have three dry years, it takes more than one year to bounce back," he said, referring to the 9.65-inch average the past three seasons.
"The immediate pressure is off, but we still are very conservative because next year can be a very dry year. California has a boom-or-bust (nature) for water supply that we've all experienced."
The impact of this season's rain, with more than half falling in January and February, is being felt by many.
It caused some problems for farmers in spring, including damage to the ripening cherry crop and delays in planting tomatoes.
But it was welcome.
"It's nice to be back to capacity where we don't have to concern ourselves with a lot of water issues," said Scott Long, who grows peaches, almonds and grapes just east of Ceres.
He is a customer of the Turlock Irrigation District, which took the rare step of capping deliveries last year.
Even with that, the TID maintained a fairly solid supply during the drought because of its long-standing rights to the Tuolumne River, which it shares with the MID.
The same was true with the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts, which tap the Stanislaus River.
West Side was making do
The abundant rain and snow eased a crisis on the West Side, where farmers dependent on federal water saw their allocations cut last year to 10 percent of the contracted amount. It was raised in June to 45 percent.
These farmers rely on pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where drought and protections for fish have restricted the supply.
Danny Layne, who runs Twain Harte-based Fish'n Dan's Guide Service, said the rain and snowmelt were a blessing for those who fish.
He said when reservoir levels are down, vegetation grows on the bank. When water rises to near capacity, that vegetation turns into food for the kokanee salmon and tiny threadfin shad, the latter of which are fed on by bass and rainbow trout.
That makes for a "healthy" fishing system, which he's seeing now.
Whether tied to the economy or water levels, Carol Russell, director of the Don Pedro Recreation Agency, has seen a spike in crowds. She couldn't pinpoint a direct reason, but certainly more water helps.
"When the water is a little bit lower, not as many folks come out," she said.
She said reservations for this June were well above last June. "And year to date, we're up," she said.
With all the water, rivers are running cold and fast and emergency workers are asking everyone to use great caution around lakes, rivers and streams.
Hugo Patino, battalion chief for the Modesto Fire Department, said this rainfall season, which included the wet April and May, could be problematic for firefighters.
"The longer growing season equates to taller fuels," he said. "If the fuel is taller, there are increased threats."
What the new season holds is anyone's guess.
"It depends on a lot of atmos-pheric and oceanic interaction," said Holly Osborne, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
The weather service isn't in the business of long-term predictions, but it's safe to say not much rain is in the immediate forecast.
"The three-month outlook is near normal," she said.
Bee staff writer John Holland and Bee photographer Brian Ramsay contributed to this report.
Bee Online Editor Brian Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2362.