Since 1950, no El Niño winter has been stronger in Fresno than this one, the National Weather Service said Sunday.
From Oct. 1 through Saturday, Fresno had received 6.61 inches of rain. The historical average rainfall for that period is 4.64 inches.
Since 1950, there have been seven strong El Niño winters, including the current one. The 1982-83 season ranks second for rain between Oct. 1 and Jan. 16, when 6.37 inches fell, the NWS said.
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El Niño refers to when a warmer-than-normal ocean temperature exists in the Pacific along the west coasts of South and Central America northward to California. When that occurs, wetter-than-normal winters can develop.
As wet as it has been so far, more precipitation could well be on the way. “Most of the rainfall we get typically comes after New Year’s,” said meteorologist Scott Rowe. January and February are historically Fresno’s wettest months.
Two new storm systems will bring rain to the central San Joaquin Valley and snow to the Sierra Nevada starting Monday and continuing Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
Rain and snow were expected to start overnight and will continue on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In Fresno, one-tenth to one-quarter inch of rain is expected.
A second storm will arrive Tuesday and continue into that evening, according to the weather service. It will be wetter, with one-quarter to a half inch of rain forecast to fall.
Snow will fall above 6,000 feet in both storms.
No rain is expected on Wednesday, making it the driest day of the week, in both the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra, said Rowe. However, a new storm is expected to arrive on Friday and chances for rain will continue into next weekend.
The last storm dropped 9 inches of snow at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite and brought the season snow total in Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Parkup to 38 inches.