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More Storms for Valley in March. Will They Add to Snowpack or Melt It?

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China Peak's Buckhorn webcam depicts the heavy snowpack in the Huntington Lake area on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. County officials said that the ski resort will be closed through the weekend. (China Peak Webcam).
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The rainy and snowy weather that has been a mainstay in California this winter appears likely to continue through March — even after the start of spring on March 20 — based on long-term modeling by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

But some forecasters are keeping a close eye on the potential for warmer storms to hit the state, soaking the massive snowpack and raising the potential for flooding.

Sierra snow levels in Central California are now at 2,500 feet, meteorologist J.P. Kalb told GV Wire on Wednesday.

Yosemite Closes, Shelters Open

The stormy weather sparked the unusual closure last Friday of Yosemite National Park, the opening this week of shelters for Fresno County residents whose power has not been restored for days, and the loss of KVPR’s Fresno transmitter because of a power outage.

Yosemite closed on Saturday after some areas received as much as 15 feet of snow, and its reopening will depend on how soon crews can restore critical services, the park announced.

In addition, Fresno County officials announced Wednesday morning that the China Peak ski resort will be closed through the weekend.


Meanwhile, the county’s Office of Emergency Services was working with the Red Cross to open shelters for residents of Prather, Auberry, Shaver Lake, Dunlap, Miramonte, and Squaw Valley who are without power.

The Prather shelter, which opened Tuesday, is at Foothill Elementary School, 29147 Auberry Road, while the Reedley shelter, which opened Monday, is at Reedley College gymnasium, 995 N. Reed Ave. The Red Cross is providing cots, blankets, pillows, and a few meals, but residents should bring clothing, medication, and toiletries. Kenneled pets are allowed to stay at the shelters.

Fresno County is warning motorists against trying to drive in the Sierra due to deep snow.

KVPR’s Meadow Lakes transmitter went silent on Tuesday after the facility lost power and then the back-up generator ran out of fuel. The outage did not affect the Bakersfield transmitter, and KVPR can still be heard online.

Stronger Probability for Colder, Wetter Weather

The short-term and longer-term forecast for Central California is for a higher probability for below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, Kalb said.

The area is still under a freeze warning for overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning, with temperatures ranging from the upper 20s in outlying areas and low 30s in urban areas such as Fresno, he said.

Sunnier skiers will prevail until Saturday afternoon into Sunday, but precipitation m will be heavier further north in the Valley, Kalb said. There’s a possibility for a few showers in the region next week, he said.

If the storms continue to come out of the Gulf of Alaska, they will be colder and hold less moisture, Kalb said. But if the jet stream shifts southward, storms could be warmer and carry more moisture, such as the atmospheric rivers that pummeled the state earlier this winter, he said.

At this point, he said, the likelihood is greater for Gulf of Alaska storms and not atmospheric rivers.

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