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Strongest Storm in Two Years Could Hit Fresno



rain sliding off a black umbrella
Fresno could see as much as 2 inches of rain on Sunday and Monday, the National Weather Service in Hanford predicts. (Shutterstock)
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With local reservoirs like Pine Flat and San Luis starved for water, good news appears to be on the way.

In its Wednesday morning forecast discussion, the National Weather Service’s Hanford office said, “The bottom line is that this storm system could potentially be the strongest storm system to impact Central California in the past two years.”

The storm could arrive as early as Saturday night in the Sierra Nevada north of Tulare County, the NWS said. But the bulk of the rain for the Valley floor and foothills is expected Sunday and Monday. The forecast calls for 1.5 to 2 inches of rain in Fresno.

In addition, modeling by the Climate Prediction Center indicates that the Valley could experience wet weather for the next two weeks.

Storm Could Bring Flooding, High Winds

This storm could trigger flooding in areas with burn scars, and strong winds could buffet the west side of the Valley, as well as the coastal mountain range, the weather office said.

A Winter Storm Watch will likely be required for the Sierra Nevada above 9,000 feet, where heavy snow is forecast. And, on Monday, the snow line could fall to 7,000 feet.

Elsewhere in the state, the storm forecast calls for up to 7 inches of rain.

Drought Emergency Now Statewide

On Tuesday, state water officials warned that Lake Mendocino could dry up by next summer.

Meanwhile, new data showed that Californians lowered their water usage by just 3.5% in July and August, far from the 15% reduction Gov. Gavin Newsom requested.

Later Tuesday, the governor expanded the state’s emergency drought declaration to the entire state — including Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

Newsom’s order empowers state water officials to enact mandatory water restrictions. Among them: banning the use of water to wash cars, clean sidewalks, or fill decorative fountains and ponds.

“One storm is great, but we’re going to need a couple to get us back to a robust and healthy storage condition,” Erik Ekdahl, a deputy director for the State Water Resources Control Board, told board members on Tuesday.

(Associated Press contributed to this article.)


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