First, a heat record, then rain comes to Fresno, snow to mountains

The Fresno BeeMarch 24, 2014 

Emily Sauls of Clovis plays ball with her dog, Lily, at the dog park at Woodward Park in Fresno on a warm afternoon, Monday, March 24, 2014. A new storm is expected to reach the area by Wednesday, bringing some rain.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

Fresno's high temperature of 85 degrees Monday broke a record set in 1930, but by Wednesday meteorologists expect temperatures to drop 20 degrees as winds and rain arrive.

Monday's high was 16 degrees warmer than the average temperature for the date, which is 69. The last record for March 24 was 83, said Jim Andersen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford.

By Tuesday night, Andersen said Fresnans can expect winds between 20 and 30 mph and a slight sprinkling of rain. By Wednesday the high will plummet to 69.

"We've been running well above the normal high for this year, but by Wednesday we'll be below it," Andersen said.

The brunt of precipitation is expected Wednesday, with possible thunderstorms throughout the afternoon. The storm will produce about .25 to .33 inches of rain and will begin to taper off Wednesday night. Since the beginning of the rain season, which runs July 1-June 30, Fresno has totaled 3.43 inches of rain, a little more than one-third of the usual amount for this time of year.

Six to 12 inches of snow are expected Wednesday in elevations higher than 6,000 feet, Andersen said.

"This would be a typical spring storm in a normal year, but we haven't seen much (rain) this season," Andersen said.

The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for the mountains from Yosemite to Kings Canyon. Winds of 25 to 45 mph with gusts to 70 mph are expected at the highest elevations in the Sierra. The NWS said motorists should plan for winter driving conditions on mountain roads, with chain restrictions and delays likely above 5,000 feet.

After the rain passes through the Valley, temperatures are expected to climb back up into the mid-70s. Friday's forecast high is 76, and though it won't break records, it will still be above normal.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or bvaccari@fresnobee.com.

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