Nearly a dozen days of rain have doused Northern California this month and more soakings are in store before February rolls around, while Southern California has gotten short shrift from the El Niño-backed storms, forecasters said Thursday.
A new system is expected to roll through the central San Joaquin Valley starting early Friday, said Jim Bagnall of the National Weather Service in Hanford. The storm should start about the same time people are beginning their morning routines, hitting Merced in the early morning around 4 a.m., so pack an umbrella, Bagnall said.
A winter storm warning is in effect for the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite National Park to the Tulare County line starting Friday until 4 p.m. Saturday. The Sierra Nevada should be blanketed once again at higher elevations, with up to 20 inches of snow above 7,000 feet.
A winter weather advisory is also in effect for the Tulare County mountains, where 5 to 10 inches of snow are possible above 7,000 feet, lowering to 6,000 feet on Saturday.
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After this storm system moves on, the weeklong forecast is expected to be dry, Bagnall said, with foggy conditions expected.
The recent storms aren’t yet enough to end California’s four-year dry spell. State water managers say California’s snowpack needs to be at 150 percent of normal on April 1 to signal an end to drought. The statewide snowpack survey is at 115 percent of normal for this time of year, according to state officials.
National Weather Service forecaster Steve Anderson says rain is coming Thursday night and Friday morning with lingering showers through Saturday in the Bay Area. While next week is forecast to be drier, the rain will return in February.
The storm systems also bring treacherous high tides.
On California’s Central Coast, two college students in Santa Cruz were swept off a rock and into the ocean by a wave Monday. Two surfers have also gone missing in rough Northern California waters in recent days.
To the south, forecasters said the latest front would deliver decent rain to the Central Coast on Friday but weaken considerably as it moves farther south, bringing only a chance of showers Saturday to the region from Los Angeles to San Diego and the inland counties.
Except for downpours during the first full week of January, Southern California hasn’t seen much rain from storms moving through the state. Sunny skies and warmer temperatures are forecast for the region Sunday and into next week.