Valley citrus growers were spared a crop-damaging freeze overnight Saturday, while Sunday brought a beautiful play day for the crowds who headed to the mountains for snow.
A new storm was expected to bring light rain and possibly more mountain snow late Sunday or Monday morning before moving out and daytime temperatures begin a gradual rise into the 50s.
The Fresno area experienced freezing overnight temperatures this weekend with the cold hitting the high 20s and low 30s. Other areas were colder with Visalia getting down to 26 degrees overnight and Lemoore hitting 24 degrees. But for the second night in a row Saturday night, citrus growers escaped a damaging hard freeze, California Citrus Mutual reported.
Freezing temperatures generally prompt citrus growers to take pre-emptive measures to prevent crop damage.
Growers ran wind machines periodically overnight Saturday evening and early Sunday to raise grove temperatures, said Citrus Mutual, a grower trade association. Some growers also ran water on Saturday to prepare the ground for colder overnight temperatures. The combination of warm air rising from the moist ground and the circulation of that air by wind machines can raise grove temperatures 3 to 5 degrees.
24Temperature in Lemoore on Sunday morning
With the Christmas storm system came 1 foot of snow at Huntington Lake near China Peak, said Jim Dudley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. That area sits around 8,700 feet in elevation.
The blanket of snow drew crowds Sunday to Shaver Lake and China Peak Mountain Resort.
“You could not have asked for a more perfect sequence of weather,” said Tim Cohee, China Peak’s owner and general manager.
Cohee said that the storm that came through early last week brought a lot of wet snow, which he called a “fabulous base.” And the snow that came on Christmas Day – which he estimates to be more like 1.5 feet – was a dry snow that’s going to be great for the community and for business.
“The snow I’m standing on will be here in May,” Cohee said.
You could not have asked for a more perfect sequence of weather.
Tim Cohee, owner and general manager for China Peak
He added that it’s the biggest snowfall this year, and it went a long way to get the resort back to where they were at before the drought began.
But snow reached much lower than 8,700 feet. It actually reached areas as low as 2,000 feet. Coarsegold saw 1 inch of snow, and the Bass Lake area received 2 to 3 inches of snow.
But, Dudley said, “there will be no extremes of cold this week.”
The temperature for Monday should top out at 50 degrees and then slowly creep upward through the week before finally reaching 56 degrees on Saturday. The lowest temperature for the week teeters above freezing at 33 degrees.
The latest storm was expected to bring Fresno 0.04 of an inch of rain and the Sierra Nevada 0.25 of an inch of rain – which translates to 2 to 4 inches of snow.
There shouldn’t be much fog on Monday, but there will be fog going into Tuesday and lasting through Thursday, Dudley said.