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Springlike temperatures to persist; rain may be on horizon

Akira Wynne, 4, rides the Speed Boats followed by her brother Nelse Wynne, 4, background, at a carnival in the Manchester Center shopping mall parking lot on a warm Sunday afternoon in Fresno. An extremely dry February with above normal temperatures may give way to the possibility of rain later this week.
Akira Wynne, 4, rides the Speed Boats followed by her brother Nelse Wynne, 4, background, at a carnival in the Manchester Center shopping mall parking lot on a warm Sunday afternoon in Fresno. An extremely dry February with above normal temperatures may give way to the possibility of rain later this week. ezamora@fresnobee.com

Springlike temperatures will retain their hold on the central San Joaquin Valley region this week, capping an exceptionally dry February. But there are hints that winter rains may yet return in March.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Hanford predict another dry week for the Valley, with above-normal temperatures. But they also noted a slight chance of rain on Thursday, and longer-range but imprecise models hint that a rain track could return by next Sunday.

“It’s not very likely to rain on Thursday, but there is a slight chance – around 20 percent,” said Brian Ochs of the National Weather Service.

Temperatures still are well above seasonal averages for this time of year. Saturday had a high of 72, about seven degrees warmer than the seasonal average temperature for the day. The high on Sunday was only 69 degrees. Tuesday may reach as high as 78 degrees, approaching 1975’s record of 79 degrees for that day, before cooling back down again as Thursday’s system moves over the Valley.

“Areas of high pressure over the United States have been fairly persistent,” Ochs said, “keeping the Valley warm with its springlike temperatures.”

With only 0.33 inches of rain recorded for the month in Fresno, and no rain in the forecast on Monday, this is the driest February since 1997 for the central San Joaquin Valley, and the 18th driest February on record.

But there is about a 20 percent chance of rain on Sunday, Ochs said, with more possible the following days, although the certainty is low as the dates fall outside the National Weather Service prediction models.

The drier weather hadn’t affected the ski traffic at China Peak Mountain Resort northeast of Fresno until this past weekend, CEO Tim Cohee said Sunday.

This was the first slow weekend the resort has had this season, but not because of a lack of snow. When there’s a string of warm, dry days, people begin to lose interest in going to the resort and decide to wait until the next rain or snow, Cohee said.

Many people choose to drive up in difficult road conditions for fresh snow rather than take advantage of the clear streets during the drier days, Cohee said.

With a storm system possibly coming to the region after next week, Cohee said, “at this point, any change in the weather will only be good.”

Staff writer Razi Syed contributed to this report. Megan Ginise: 559-441-6614

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