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After unseasonably warm days, new forecast shows rain, snow heading to Central California

Elijah Espinoza, 3, runs to get his kite airborne while playing with his father Michael Espinoza on a warm afternoon at Quigley Playground in Fresno on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.
Elijah Espinoza, 3, runs to get his kite airborne while playing with his father Michael Espinoza on a warm afternoon at Quigley Playground in Fresno on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

After weeks of bone-dry weather, the central San Joaquin Valley is set to get some new rain and snow thanks to a series of storms that will arrive starting Friday.

The National Weather Service said Thursday will be partly sunny as a storm brushes Northern California. But clouds will build starting Thursday night, and Friday will dawn with a 20 percent chance of showers, the NWS said. The chance for rain grows to 50 percent by Friday night and stays there into Saturday.

The real good shot for rain comes Saturday night, when the most significant storm system of the coming week rolls through the region. The weather service says up to an inch of rain could fall in the Fresno area overnight Saturday.

Rain stays in the forecast Sunday through Monday.

The snow level will start above 7,000 feet but by Sunday will drop to 5,000 feet. A foot of snow on higher terrain is expected Saturday night into early Sunday, then another six to 12 inches should fall during Sunday. By Sunday afternoon and evening, colder air aloft will lead to a chance for thunder and lightning, the NWS said. That kind of weather is forecast for Fresno County northward.

The new precipitation is most welcome. State water officials announced Tuesday that the Sierra snowpack had fallen below average for this point in the winter. Fresno’s rainfall, meanwhile, remains above average, at 9.95 inches for the season that began Oct. 1.

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