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Get Ready for Heavy Rain on Valley Floor, Huge Sierra Snowfall



Ominous Clouds Portending Rain, Snow
With up to 5 feet of snow coming to the Sierra this weekend, mountain travel will be difficult, perhaps even impossible, the NWS says. (Shutterstock)
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Fresno and other Valley cities can expect up to two inches of rain in a series of storms beginning Thursday night and ending as late as Monday morning.

The forecast from the National Weather Service in Hanford also calls for significant snow in the Sierra over the weekend.

So much snow, in fact, that NWS Hanford is telling weekend travelers to the mountains to prepare for closed roads and difficult travel.

“Most of this snow will fall Saturday night and Sunday,” the weather service said in a tweet. “Snow levels around 4,000 feet Saturday will rise to about 6,000 feet Saturday night. Snow levels will drop to around 3,000 feet by Sunday evening.”

Planning a Tahoe Trip? Getting There May Be ‘Impossible’

The forecast is much the same for the Reno-Lake Tahoe region.

“Heavy snow may create dangerous winter weather conditions and travel may be difficult to impossible during this period,” NWS Reno said in a tweet.

Drought-Enhancing La Niña Expected to Fade in Spring

The strong early start to California’s vital 202-2023 water season is bolstered by a forecast expressing confidence that the drought-enhancing La Niña weather pattern is fading.

“Forecasters are very confident that La Niña will continue in the short term, followed by a transition to neutral conditions,” the El Niño-Southern Oscillation blog stated Wednesday. “The exact timing of the transition is not clear, with equal chances of both La Niña and neutral for the January–March average. Confidence that La Niña will have exited by the February–April period, however, is fairly high, with a 71% chance of neutral.”

This forecast offers hope that California won’t suffer a repeat of the 2021-22 water season when a third straight La Niña appearance turned a promising start into a third straight year of drought.

El Niño vs. La Niña

El Niño means little boy or Christ child in Spanish, and it tends to produce wetter years in California because it often strengthens atmospheric rivers.

“El Niño events in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 drenched the West Coast with record rain. The last El Nino, a weak one, occurred in 2018-2019,” says the Weather Education Foundation.

La Niña means little girl in Spanish, and it typically results in dry conditions in California.


Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email