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Central California Could Get Drenched by El Niño: NOAA Forecast
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 6 months ago on
October 20, 2023

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If this year’s El Niño delivers a wet winter on the West Coast, the heaviest rainfall is most likely to hit Central California.

That’s the word from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released its U.S. Winter Outlook on Thursday.

However, as the chart below conveys, there are no guarantees about what’s coming for the San Joaquin Valley. California’s midsection is projected to have a 33% to 50% chance of above-normal precipitation depending on where you live.

NOAA forecasters also predicted that California would avoid drought conditions through the end of January 2024.

From December through February, NOAA predicts wetter-than-average conditions for northern Alaska, portions of the West, southern Plains, Southeast, Gulf Coast, and the lower mid-Atlantic. It is projecting drier-than-average conditions across the northern U.S., especially in the northern Rockies, High Plains, and near the Great Lakes.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says that El Niño — the first heading into winter in four years — is anticipated to continue through spring in the Northern Hemisphere. And, there’s an 80% chance it could last through the end of May.

The Climate Prediction Center also forecasts an equal chance of above-normal and below-normal precipitation for California in November and December.

Valley Cooldown This Weekend

It will finally feel like fall in the Valley this weekend.

Although near-record heat is expected again Friday afternoon throughout the San Joaquin Valley, the National Weather Service forecast calls for cooling Saturday through at least Thursday of next week.

“By Monday afternoon, high temperatures will be as much as four to eight degrees below normal for this time of year,” NWS Hanford said in its Friday morning discussion. “There is a slight chance of light precipitation Sunday into Monday.”

Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees with Fresno temperatures falling to the mid and low 70s starting Sunday. Overnight lows will range from the low to mid-50s.

For the record, fall began at 11:50 p.m. on Sept. 22.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
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

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