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Central Valley storm raises flooding concerns for southern Sierra Nevada

North end of Bass Lake iced over after heavy storms, frigid conditions

Heavy winter storms and frigid conditions have left the northern end of Bass Lake frozen over as of Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. It's a somewhat rare condition, according to resident Taylor Ferguson.
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Heavy winter storms and frigid conditions have left the northern end of Bass Lake frozen over as of Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. It's a somewhat rare condition, according to resident Taylor Ferguson.

Clear skies in the Central Valley were short-lived.

Coming off a rainy weekend, the southern Sierra Nevada and nearby foothill communities braced for another storm this week that could bring flooding to several communities.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch from 10 a.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Thursday for the Sierra below 7,000 feet. It warned of rising water levels in nearby rivers and streams, as well as mudslides and falling debris, especially near the burn scars of recent fires.

Jim Andersen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said areas with snow are also at a higher risk of flooding

“The snow that’s on the ground, when you get that warm rain that comes on it, it can add to that flow that goes along the surface, and that could create more issues,” Andersen said.

The forecast predicted between 2 to 5 inches of rain throughout the mountains, the bulk of which would fall Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon.

Mariposa near Ferguson Fire burn scar and Oakhurst were forecast to receive between 2 to 3 inches of rain. About an inch of rain fell in both towns on Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Previous storms have shut down a 17-mile stretch of Highway 140 near the Ferguson Fire burn scar in Mariposa County.

Light rainfall is expected on Friday. Oakhurst and Mariposa are both expecting less than a tenth of an inch that day.

Rain is expected to slow down as you move into the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno, Madera and Merced are all forecast to receive between 1 to 2 inches of rain during this week’s storm.

These cities are also coming off wet weekends. Fresno and Madera recorded about .45 inches of rainfall on Saturday, while Merced saw .52 inches.

None of those cities were under a flood watch as of Monday. But a wind advisory was issued for much of the Central San Joaquin Valley, to last from 4 p.m. Tuesday until noon on Wednesday.

Snow levels will be at about 7,000 feet, much higher than some of the area’s colder storms this season. Tioga Pass and Mammoth Lakes could see up to 2 feet and 1 foot of snow, respectively, over the next few days.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Kings Canyon above 7,000 feet. The warning will run from 7 a.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Thursday.

Caltrans postponed their scheduled maintenance along Highway 41 in Oakhurst due to the inclement weather forecast. The work will begin Monday, March 11 instead of its initially scheduled start date of March 4.

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