The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the southern Sierra Nevada starting Monday night as a series of storms is expected to roll through California and the Central Valley, with potential rainfall numbers not seen since 2011 and 2012.
Light precipitation is expected throughout the Valley starting Monday night with heavier rain on the coastal regions. But the biggest storm of the series is expected to hit on Tuesday, said David Spector of the National Weather Service in Hanford.
Another storm is expected for late Wednesday through Thursday, with an additional storm on Saturday.
Temperatures in the Valley are expected to reach a high in the mid-50s and a low in the mid- to upper 30s, Spector said. Above-normal temperatures will start the week before a gradual cooling develops as the week progresses, lowering the snow level to 2,500 feet by Wednesday.
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A wind advisory is in effect through Monday at 4 a.m. through the Grapevine and Tehachapi passes as gusts up to 55 mph have been reported.
The rain total for the three systems in Fresno should top out at 1.15 inches, Spector said, with Mariposa receiving nearly 2 inches. Snow totals also are expected to increase with 8 to 16 inches in the northern reaches of Kings Canyon National Park and 5 to 10 inches above 6,000 feet.
The region may finally be seeing a break from the persistent dry spell.
December 2015 recorded the most rain of any month since March 2011, with 2.97 inches compared to the 3.46 inches that fell in March 2011. This month may continue that trend. If Fresno receives the 1.15 inches of rainfall that forecasters expect, it will exceed in one week the monthly total for any January since 2012, when 1.38 inches fell.
The second half of the month also is expected to be wetter than normal for all of California, the National Weather Service reports.
Megan Ginise: 559-441-6614