Fresno hits heat record as rainless spell grows

The Fresno BeeJanuary 19, 2014 

Fresno hit a heat record for the third straight day Sunday, and with a dry spell still gripping the region, the city is approaching a mark of consecutive rainless winter days not seen in 14 years.

Sunday's high was 73, tying the record set in 1981. Fresno is expected to remain in the 70s for at least two more days, which means the city could set or break more records for daytime highs, said meteorologist Gary Sanger with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

The forecast also suggests there is no break likely in the Valley's dry spell.

Fresno has not seen measurable rain since Dec. 7, when 0.15 of an inch was recorded. The current 43-day stretch is close to the 45-day period of dry winter weather that ended on Jan. 15, 2000, Sanger said.

In 1977 there was another 45-day rainless stretch that ended Feb. 20, Sanger said, but he could not find a stretch as long as what the Valley could experience by the end of the week.

There is nothing in the extended forecast to stop the streak from hitting 50 winter days without rain in Fresno, he said.

The extended dry spell across California, coming after two previous dry years, prompted Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to issue an emergency drought declaration.

A prediction released last week from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center projects below average precipitation in California for the rest of January and all of February.

The dry weather is due to high pressure off the coast of California that is shouldering winter storms away from the state.

Since July 1 -- the start of the water year -- just 0.73 inches of rain have been recorded in Fresno. Normally by this time in the season the city has 5.03 inches.

In the Valley, some cloud cover and wind will lower the temperature later in the week and possibly clear up the air a little bit, Sanger said. The cooler temperatures are still expected to be six to seven degrees higher than normal for January.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6279 or jrayburn@fresnobee.com.

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