Valley gets its best drenching so far; more expected late Friday

The Fresno BeeFebruary 6, 2014 

A powerful Pacific storm on Thursday gave the parched central San Joaquin Valley its best drenching this winter, and more rain is expected this weekend.

The storm dropped 0.79 inches of rain in Fresno, and a half-foot of snow at some Sierra locations.

Meteorologist Jim Andersen said more scattered showers are expected over the weekend, bringing up to three-quarters of an inch of rain through early Monday morning.

While the overdue wet weather is welcome and may be a sign of things to come, forecasters say California needs much more rain and snow to make up for one of the driest rainy seasons so far.

"I won't say the storm door is open, but maybe we'll get into more of a routine storm pattern now," said Bob Benjamin, a National Weather Service forecaster in Monterey.

In the central San Joaquin Valley, the region remains well behind its seasonal norms. Since July 1, Fresno has recorded 2.15 inches of rain — about a third of what the city normally sees by this time of year.

The Valley can expect partly sunny skies today with daytime temperatures in the upper 50s, Andersen said. But the region could see rain again as early as tonight.

This weekend's storm will affect the Highway 180 braided-ramp project between Highways 41 and 168, Caltrans said.

Crews originally planned to close the eastbound lanes of the Highway and connector ramps from northbound and southbound Highway 41 to eastbound Highway 180 starting tonight at midnight up until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Caltrans said the closures will be postponed by a week because of the rain.

Thursday's storm brought hope for an improving winter sports season for Sierra ski resorts.

Tim Cohee with China Peak Mountain Resort said the mountain received 6 inches of new snow by Thursday morning and that the resort will open up two new runs today.

Cohee also said the resort expects to have 24 inches of additional snow by Monday. If that happens, he said, most of the mountain will reopen.

Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite National Park said on its Facebook page Thursday that the storm could allow it to open this weekend.

In the northern Sierra, the National Weather Service was forecasting as much as 6 inches of snow at higher elevations.

Southern California, meanwhile, had steady rains in some areas and scattered showers in others, though totals there were expected to be small.

The rainfall prompted state fire officials to lift a ban on outdoor open burning in parts of Northern and Central California.

But Thursday's rainfall was just the beginning — at least in Northern California.

Forecasters say a stronger system moving in today will dump as much as 6 inches of rain on Bay Area mountains and 2 feet of snow in the Sierra over the weekend.

San Francisco and Sacramento could get a couple of more inches of rain, the National Weather Service said.

Still, the state would remain well off its normal rainfall totals for the year. February is normally the wettest month, as recorded in downtown Los Angeles, with average rainfall of 3.8 inches. The region, however, has yet to see a generalized rainstorm this month.

Sacramento normally experiences more than 12 inches of rainfall between July and now, George Cline, another National Weather Service forecaster, said. Even if the weekend storm dumps as much rain as expected, Sacramento will only be at half its normal levels.

 

How wet did it get?

Fresno: .79

Hanford: .28

Madera: .77

Oakhurst: .42

Three Rivers: 0.5

Yosemite Valley: 1.26

Wishon Dam: 0.5

FORECAST: Weekend showers could bring up to three-quarters of an inch of rain and an additional 24 inches of snow in the Sierra through early Monday morning.

 

 

 

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6015 or asasaki@fresnobee.com.

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