Two straight stormy weekends have buried the Sierra in snow, brought needed rain, and begun fill to the state’s parched reservoirs.
The question is, how much more water is in Mother Nature’s pipeline for drought-plagued California?
The short-term answer is unclear, according to the National Weather Service in Hanford.
The seven-day forecast calls for highs in the low 50s and lows in the mid-30s, with a 20% to 30% chance of rain in Fresno from Friday through Sunday.
The forecast is equally murky for the rest of the month, too.
Some models see the weather pattern turning dry, However, others say there’s a chance that storms near Alaska could divert to California.
For the 2022-23 rain year, Fresno has received 3.34 inches, including 2.57 inches in December. The normal for the month is 1.77 inches.
However, experts agree that California will need continued precipitation this winter and spring to avoid a fourth consecutive year of drought.
Nearly an Inch of Rain for Fresno
The most recent storm, which continues to linger in parts of the San Joaquin Valley, lived up to its advance billing.
Nearly an inch of rain fell on Fresno on Saturday and Sunday, and today’s update from the state Department of Water Resouces measured the snowpack atop Kaiser Pass at five feet.
The state’s major reservoirs are on the rebound, too.
Millerton Lake in Friant was at 59% capacity and 123% of its historical average for the date on Sunday. Meanwhile, Pine Flat was at 19% capacity and 61% of its Dec. 11 average.
In Northern California, two huge reservoirs critical to the state’s water supply, Shasta and Oroville, were at 57% and 56% of normal, respectively.
Sierra Snowpack Double of Normal
The state report for snow water equivalents delivered encouraging news from the Sierra on Monday morning.
The northern Sierra stands at 201% of its historical average while the central Sierra is at 214% and the southern Sierra at 257%.
The statewide snow water equivalent is 223% of normal, and already at 42% of its April 1 average.
Snow Causes Sierra Havoc
The storm, while needed, made travel difficult and created tough conditions for ski resorts.
The Heavenly ski resort at Lake Tahoe shut down some operations when the brunt of the storm hit Saturday.
And, a 70-mile stretch of eastbound U.S. Interstate 80 was closed Saturday “due to zero visibility” from Colfax to the Nevada state line, Caltrans said. Chains were required on much of the rest of I-80 and other routes from Reno toward Sacramento.
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)