Temperatures have turned frigid in California – good news for China Peak ski resort in the mountains east of Fresno, which opened Friday morning with a weekends-only schedule to start the season, but shivery news on the Valley floor.
The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning for the central San Joaquin Valley floor lasting from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday. The service said the freeze is expected to start by 2 a.m. Saturday and dip as low as 28 degrees in some areas around 5 a.m. Saturday.
For the Valley floor this weekend, the service predicts areas of frost and patchy fog each day with daytime high temperatures in the mid 50s. Oakhurst is expected to see lows in the teens and highs just above freezing.
The weather service called freeze warnings or watches for much of California on Friday, raising concerns for crops and for homeless people in urban centers, even as skiers and snowboarders took advantage of snowy slopes.
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Citrus crops likely escaped damage – temperatures Friday morning did not stay at or below 28 degrees for more than two hours, which is when problems can occur, Hanford-based weather service meteorologist David Spector said. Still, the California Citrus Mutual trade association’s weather service recommended using orchard fans to push the temperature up a few degrees.
The service announced a freeze watch for Sunday morning in the same eight-hour window.
Jim Bagnall of the Hanford weather service office said that a dusting of snow is expected in the Sierra overnight Friday and Saturday.
China Peak announced early Friday that it received 10 to 12 inches of light snow in the storm that ended Wednesday. Combined with a season total of 39 to 50 inches and favorable snowmaking temperatures in the 30s, it equals skiing.
The resort said that to start the season, it will be open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m,. with Chair 6 offering intermediate terrain about one mile in length plus a 400-foot moving carpet for beginners.
The resort said that if weather conditions allow it to open the top of the mountain, it will consider staying open daily. Current plans are to go to daily operation no later than Dec. 19.
The base ticket price is $39 for adults. A season pass sale ends Monday.
Details: 559-233-2500 or www.skichinapeak.com.