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Overnight Storm Brought 106 MPH Wind Gust. Thunderstorms Forecast for Valley.



An empty vehicle is surrounded by floodwaters on a road in Oakland, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
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Wednesday’s overnight storm brought wind gusts peaking at 40 to 45 mph across the Valley and a mighty gust of 106 mph that was recorded at 10:13 p.m. at the Grapevine’s peak on Interstate 5, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill South said Thursday.

The atmospheric river that took aim on California dropped about a half inch of rain on average to the Valley floor, with higher amounts in the Sierra foothills. Wawona recorded 2.69 inches, South said.

The storm brought scattered power outages across Fresno and Fresno County, which were relatively minor compared to the widespread outages across the Bay Area and Sacramento regions.

One Lane Opens on 168 Below Shaver Lake

Caltrans announced that Highway 168 east of Fresno, which had been closed in the Four Lanes area due to a rockslide, has reopened with one-way traffic control. Motorists should expect delays.

Reminder! Caltrans has opened State Route 168 on the Four Lanes with one-way traffic control and a pilot car. Motorists who utilize this route should expect short delays based upon the flow of traffic and current workload. Remember to remain undistracted and #BeWorkZoneAlert

Thursday afternoon’s forecast includes the possibility of thunderstorms, with lightning strikes and small hail, South said.

Watch: Recent Rains Nourish San Joaquin River Basin

What About the Drought?

Is it too soon to hope that the state’s severe drought may have ended? Yes, South said — but the drought’s severity has been lessened by all the rain so far this winter.

Last year, the Valley endured a soggy December but then dry weather prevailed during the remaining winter months — when the bulk of California’s precipitation traditionally falls, extending the state’s drought woes.

The recent rainstorms have made a dent in the region’s drought status, moving the Valley out of the “exceptional” drought category and into the “extreme” category, South said. The Valley would have to pass through two more categories, severe and moderate, before we can say the drought has ended, he said.

Fog isn’t as much on the horizon as it was in December. The brisk winds accompanying the atmospheric rivers are keeping the fog at bay, which means daytime and nighttime temperatures won’t be as chilly, South said. Wednesday’s high in the Fresno area reached into the 60s in advance of the bomb cyclone storm later that night, he said.

A rare sunny day is forecast for Friday, with some rain over the weekend from a storm that is focused more on Northern California, Another storm early next week will aim at Central California, he said.

Be Prepared When Traveling

If you are planning to travel, Caltrans offers these tips:

Tree Kills Toddler in Sonoma County

In Sonoma County, Occidental Volunteer Fire Chief Ronald Lunardi said a boy believed to be under 2 years old died Wednesday night after a tree fell on a home, The Press Democrat reported. In Fairfield, a 19-year-old woman died after her vehicle hydroplaned on a flooded road and hit a utility pole, police posted on Facebook.

Waves that were forecast to reach 25 feet battered the Santa Cruz County coastline south of San Francisco, swamping homes at the mouth of Soquel Creek in the seaside city of Capitola and knocking out a section of its historic wooden pier.

“We anticipate that this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years,” said Nancy Ward, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

(Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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