So little rain fell that year during January and February that Inland Valley farmers demanded something be done.
One proposal was to hire a colorful Kansas native by the name of Charles M. Hatfield, who claimed he could create rain, literally out of thin air.
Hatfield charged $1,000 for each inch that fell. Brewing up a cauldron of chemicals whose vapors he said would create rain, he fashioned himself a "Moisture Accelerator."
His efforts may have even had some science behind it. Today, clouds are "seeded" with silver iodide or similar chemicals dropped into clouds to increase the amount of rain from a storm.
Depending on how desperate they were, most people saw Hatfield as anything from a savior to a charlatan. Rain often did fall after he did his wizardry - but in those days before satellite-based forecasts, who knew if it was going to arrive anyway?
In January 1915, San Diego hired him to fill its empty reservoirs. Within a few weeks, the area was flooded by a number of storms that caused reservoirs to overflow and briefly halted the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Angry San Diego officials refused to pay Hatfield, especially after they were sued by flood victims. The ensuing legal battle continued into the 1930s, but the city never did pay him for the deluge.
In early 1924 even a little flooding seemed like a good thing to Inland Valley farmers whose field crops were dying in the tourist-friendly winter sunshine. During January and February, Pomona received only nine-tenths of an inch of rain and less than three inches since the previous April.
Ranchers from western San Bernardino County appealed to the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 25 to hire Hatfield. The board agreed to allow their representative, E.F. Van Luven of Colton, to approach Hatfield and get his price.
"Rainmaker Hatfield says he'll make it rain anywhere for $1,000 per inch - no rain, no pay," editorialized the Pomona Progress on March 1. "Cheap enough, don't you think? If we can't get rained on any other way, it would be economy ... to buy a few inches from this gentleman."
But his services were very much in demand. Hatfield, who lived in Glendale, was also approached by Ventura County interests, thus setting up a battle for his talents.
"I have broken some stubborn droughts but if I succeed in bringing this one to an end and I am sure I can, I think everyone will admit the veracity of my claims," he told the United Press.
But not everyone believed in the veracity of his claims.
"Verily it seems that (P.T.) Barnum was right when he said a fool was born every minute," weatherman H.R. Hersey said about Hatfield's customers. "That was about the correct schedule in those days but it seems they are speeding it up a bit."
While Hatfield chose between Ventura and San Bernardino, churches offered prayers and Indians near Banning put on dances and rituals seeking rain.
On March 1, William Laidlaw, an orange grower in southern Ontario, offered some hope when he predicted the area would get rain on March 15. He said his research showed a deluge on that day - and it turned out he was right.
In fact, Hatfield, by delaying his decision, missed a opportunity that Mother Nature afforded him to become a real hero to Southern Californians.
On March 2, rain arrived - without any earthly assistance - and fell fairly regularly for two months. That first storm dropped more than an inch in Ontario and helped put out a brush fire in Devils Canyon north of San Bernardino.
In March, 5 1/2 inches fell locally and another 3 in April, which put Hatfield out of a job in the Inland Valley.
In late March, he was in Hanford near Fresno but appeared to have little success bringing badly needed rain to the parched Central Valley.
Hatfield ultimately gave up rainmaking. The formula used in his process was never revealed to anyone and apparently died with him in 1958.