The new focus of the central San Joaquin Valley’s weather is not rain and snow, but freezing overnight temperatures.
A freeze warning has been issued from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. Friday. The National Weather Service said the warning covers the region from Los Banos to Bakersfield.
Within cities, low temperatures will drop to between 31 and 35 degrees during that six-hour period, the NWS said. In rural areas, it will be even colder, with lows plunging to 28 to 32 degrees.
Exposed plumbing should be covered so pipes don’t burst. Fragile plants should be covered, and pets brought inside.
Fresno’s daytime high Friday will be near 57, but not before the frosty start that also includes the possibility of patchy fog. The normal high for this time of year is around 64 degrees.
The levee along the Fresno slough near Tranquillity, which has become a concern due to high flows of the San Joaquin and Kings rivers, was holding Thursday, and county officials continue to watch it for any weakening. A plan to shore it up is being developed.
The evacuation warnings for North Fork issued earlier in the week due to releases downstream from a full Bass Lake were cancelled by Madera County officials Wednesday evening.
Friday and Saturday will feature sunny skies, but the next chance of rain occurs Saturday night, and showers remain in the forecast into Monday. Weekend highs will stay in the upper 50s, with lows in the 30s to low 40s.
The cause of the unseasonable cold spell is cool air flowing south to California from Alaska. The weather service said it represents a classic winter pattern, so snow levels will be lower but storms won’t pack as much moisture as last week’s atmospheric river event.
Fresno has received 12.58 inches of rain for the current season, which is well ahead of the seasonal average for late February of 7.26 inches and also exceeds the average total of 11.5 inches for a full season.
Snow amounts in the Sierra are hefty. A gauge on Tamarack Summit, at 7,600 feet off Highway 168 near the China Peak ski resort, reported a snow depth Thursday of 110 inches. Snow was 88 inches deep at Huntington Lake, elevation 7,000 feet.
Tioga Pass, on the northeastern end of Yosemite National Park at 9,900 feet, showed a snow depth Thursday of 230 inches.