After a week of spring-like weather, winter returns with cold rain and low snow levels on Sunday.
Fresnans enjoyed a high near 70 degrees Friday, and Saturday was expected to be a mild 66. But a storm front from Alaska is making its way south along the West Coast and will arrive in the central San Joaquin Valley late Saturday night, said the National Weather Service office in Hanford.
It will bring rain on Sunday that will total up to half an inch in Fresno and up to 2 inches in the foothills and mountains. The west side of the Valley and points south of Fresno will see less.
Sunday will have a high of 57, which is below normal for early March. The low Sunday night will be 37, with rain and wind of up to 15 mph.
The snow level will start at 7,000 feet Saturday night, but drop by Sunday morning to 4,000 feet in Yosemite National Park and 5,000 feet in the Tulare County mountains. New accumulations of up to 2 feet are possible from Yosemite to Kings Canyon, and with gusty wind expected, the weather service has issued a winter storm warning for the Sierra. That means travel in the mountains will be difficult Sunday, and should be avoided if possible.
Gusty winds will also blow in the Valley, mostly on the wind-prone areas along the west side.
The snow level will drop to 2,000 feet Sunday night, making a dusting of snow atop the foothills on the east side possible, the weather service said.
By Monday, the storm system will have headed east and skies will clear to mostly sunny days. A warming trend will go into the middle of next week.
Spring does not officially arrive until March 20.
February was truly wet
The weather service on Friday issued its summary for February, and the data show the month was indeed wet.
For the month, Fresno received 2.52 inches of rain. That is a half inch more than normal, or 124 percent of average.
For the rain season (July 1-June 30), Fresno has gotten 12.58 inches. Normally, the city would have 7.88 inches through February. So the city was 4.7 inches above normal for the season.
The water year is measured from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. On that basis, Fresno is 163 percent above normal.
Other key facts:
▪ Overnight temperatures were milder than usual. The average low was 46 degrees – nearly 5 degrees warmer per night than is typical. Fresno set three records for the date for warm overnight temperatures (Feb. 3, 8, and 9).
▪ On Feb. 17, the city achieved a new record for daily rainfall, when 0.73 inches fell. The old record for that date was 0.58 inches, set in 1941.