The storm system flowing over the Central Valley this week is bringing a decent amount of needed rain, but probably not enough to warrant the “miracle” label, says a local meteorologist.

Still, if projections become reality, this month’s total rainfall could help March 2018 achieve Top 10 status.

March Could Deliver 4-plus Inches of Rain

“By the time we’re done with March, we could be seeing over 4 inches of precipitation, given the forecast through (Thursday) night,” said meteorologist Brian Ochs with the National Weather Service in Hanford. “If we get over 4.2 inches, then we would be in the Top 10 for March.”

“To really get a March Miracle you probably need to be closer to the Top 3 for March rainfall.” — Brian Ochs of the National Weather Service

Through midnight Tuesday, Fresno had received about half of that amount. But the heaviest rain is expected Wednesday night and Thursday, with up to 1.5 additional inches predicted.

“To really get a March Miracle you probably need to be closer to the Top 3 for March rainfall,” Ochs said.

Weaker Storm on Horizon

While another system is expected to bring more rain over the weekend, it won’t have the tropical moisture associated with the current storm, described as a “Pineapple Express.” Ochs said the weaker system will probably only contribute one-tenth or two-tenths of an inch to the total rainfall amount for March.

At higher elevations, March storms have made a significant contribution to the Sierra snowpack. While still below normal, more than 16 feet of new snow has fallen since the end of February in the Lake Tahoe area. This has more than doubled the seasonal snowpack to date, as satellite images illustrate.

Of course, this “atmospheric river” storm system is covering a large swath of California, which is causing a variety of weather-related headaches across the state, including evacuations.

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