Freezing overnight lows will continue for a few more nights, then an El Niño-spawned pattern will bring good rain chances after the Valley rings in the new year.
There was widespread frost with patchy freezing fog Wednesday night from Fresno County southward, said Carlos Molina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Hanford. The fog was most concentrated between Selma and Lemoore. Fresno dipped to 31 degrees, while outlying areas like Lemoore dropped to 27.
Bob Blakely, vice president for California Citrus Mutual, said that orange and mandarin growers avoided problems overnight as their defenses against the cold kept temperatures in the groves warm enough to prevent crop damage. Blakely expects farmers to continue using wind machines and watering their groves for the next few days.
Molina said frost and patchy freezing fog remain the norm for the next few nights. Temperatures will hover in the 50s during the day.
Despite the recent cold snap, temperatures have actually been average for December, said David Spector, another weather service meteorologist. But Fresno has received more rain than normal for the month.
Fresno received 2.97 inches of rain in December, which is 1.27 inches above normal. For the season, which runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, Fresno has 5.2 inches of rain, well above the 3.4-inch normal for the season to date.
“We’ve done well,” Spector said.
More rain is coming next week. The El Niño pattern – when warm water flows north along the West Coast from South America – is firmly in place. When that happens, storms have a greater chance of reaching California in the winter.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a chance of rain starting Monday, and then storms bringing more showers every day for the rest of next week.
Molina said temperatures and snow levels will rise as these storms tap moisture from the Pacific Ocean. Overnight lows will be in the 40s on the Valley floor and daytime highs in the 50s.
Fresno receives most of its rain during the first three months of the year, averaging 2.19 in January, 2.03 in February and 2.03 inches in March, Spector said.