Water & Drought

January 26, 2014

Valley's record stretch of warm winter weather to give way to rain

Fresno set a record Sunday of nine straight January days of 70-degree weather as Valley residents wait for rain -- which could come as early as Thursday.

Fresno's high temperature of 72 degrees Sunday set a new record for Jan. 26, beating the old record of 70 set in 1940, said meteorologist Gary Sanger with the National Weather Service in Hanford. This record stretch of heat surpasses an eight-day January heat wave in 1948.

The forecast is for more 70-degree days through Wednesday before a weather system arrives on Thursday with the chance of at least a little rain. Sanger said he hopes the new weather system shows there is a chink in the high ridge of pressure that has blocked the normal winter storm track for California.

January is usually the wettest month of the year in the Valley, with 2.19 inches of rain typically falling in Fresno. With rainfall this month at zero, Sanger said, the weather has been drier than anyone has seen in living memory.

"It's been over a century since we've seen this dry a start to January," Sanger said. "This is history we hope won't be repeated in our lifetime."

Sanger said there is a 50% chance of rain in Fresno during the day on Thursday, but the storm is only expected to drop about 0.1 of an inch of rain. The chance for rain decreases further south, Sanger said, with only a 30% chance in Lemoore, Visalia and Hanford.

Until the rain arrives, more days will be added to a span of dry weather that reached an unfortunate milestone on Sunday.

"As of today it's been 50 days without rain," Sanger said. "It's a golden anniversary I don't think anyone wanted to see."

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