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‘Parade of Storms’ Will Continue to Pummel Soggy Valley



This radar image provided by NASA shows the atmospheric river of precipitation targeting California. (NASA)
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Enjoy Friday’s respite of sunshine, because more wet weather is headed this way. The National Weather Service office in Hanford is eyeing a “parade of storms” that are lined up to hit starting Saturday night, dropping as much as 3 inches of rain on the Fresno area and snow above 7,000 feet in the Sierra by Tuesday evening.

If you’ve been praying for the drought to end, this is one parade to celebrate. But if you’re living in a flood- or rockslide-prone area, maybe not so much.

The storm that will hit Sunday and last through Tuesday will hammer much of Northern and Central California, according to AccuWeather.

“Factoring in the storms that began in late December forward through mid-January, rainfall and mountain snow in some areas could rival amounts that do not occur, on average, for 25 or 50 years or more,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Mike Doll said.

The next storm will be similar to the one earlier this week that pounded the coast, brought gusty winds — one gust registered 106 mph on the Grapevine Wednesday night — and heavy rainfall, meteorologist Josue Chamberlain said Friday.

Subtropical moisture that is fueling the so-called atmospheric rivers that have pummeled California in recent weeks is accompanied by subtropical temperatures that will raise daytime highs in the Fresno area into the upper 50s and overnight lows into the low 50s by next Tuesday, Chamberlain said.

On Friday afternoon, NWS tweeted that Fresno could receive up to four inches of rain on Monday and Tuesday.

With higher snow levels, rain will fall at lower elevations, melting the snowpack and increasing the potential for flooding and rockslides.

Above Average Rainfall, More on The Way

Moss grows on a backyard fence in northeast Fresno (GV Wire/Nancy Price)

How much rain have we had?

Enough for moss to grow on backyard fences in Fresno.

Enough for the Valley’s drought category to change from exceptional (dark brown) to extreme (dark orange) in just one week.

According to the precipitation totals recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fresno’s total is above average thus far with 6.32 inches since Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. According to NOAA’s records, in an average year, Fresno would have 3.58 inches by this time of year and an annual average of 10.99 inches.

Nearby cities also are above average in precipitation according to NOAA: Merced has recorded 7.91 inches, Madera, 3.32, and Hanford, 4.52.

Why more rain for Fresno and Merced? The two cities are closer to the Sierra foothills and benefit from “orographic lifts,” Chamberlain said. An orographic lift is when an air mass is pushed upward against rising terrain such as a mountain and forms clouds as the rising air cools.

How Long Before Rain Ends?

Is more rain on the way for the Fresno area? AccuWeather forecasts that the second half of January will be somewhat drier but that storms are “likely” to resume in February and March.

The National Weather Service keeps its forecasts more short-term, as long-term forecasting can be iffy, Chamberlain said.

“All I can tell you is that there is a chance of rain seven to eight days away,” he said.

Water Levels at Major Reservoirs


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