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Rain, Followed by More Rain for Valley. (Yes, It’s December.)

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A pedestrian uses an umbrella and tree cover to avoid raindrops Thursday in Fresno. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)
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If you haven’t already unearthed your galoshes from your closet, now would be a good time.

The National Weather Service is predicting that more intense rain will fall from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday night, on top of the more-gentle rain that started falling earlier today.

Meteorologist Andy Bollenbacher expects a total of about an inch of rain will fall in the Fresno area from now through Saturday afternoon when storm clouds are forecast to move out of the region.

The current storm system and the next wave that’s forecast to hit Friday evening are both coming from the Pacific Northwest, but the nighttime lows will be colder in the first storm, down to 36 degrees overnight Thursday and into Friday morning.

The second wave is being fueled by moisture coming from the equatorial Pacific, which will raise the overnight lows to the low to middle 40s, he said.

If you’re in the foothills, you can expect 2 to 4 inches of rain over the course of the several storms, with snow falling above the 5,000-foot level and a winter storm warning above 7,000 feet, Bollenbacher said.

UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab heralded the storm with a tweet that said “Happy first day of meteorological winter!” (For us non-meteorologists, the astronomical first day of winter will be Dec. 21.)

The second wave of rain that is forecast to hit the Valley starting Friday evening could be accompanied by more surface puddling, since the ground will already be saturated from the first storm, he said.

With wet ground and cold nights, could fog be on the horizon? Bottenbacher said unsettled weather in the forecast is “not ideal for fog,” but the 10-day forecast is always subject to changing conditions.

Snow Clogs Tahoe Region

A windy, winter storm packing heavy snow started moving into the Sierra, closing schools at Lake Tahoe, prompting a backcountry avalanche warning, and snarling traffic on Interstate 80 west of Reno.

At Lake Tahoe, all schools were closed Thursday on the north shore at Incline Village and the south shore at South Lake Tahoe.

Westbound traffic on I-80 was being held at the California-Nevada state line on the west edge of Reno at midday while crews worked to clear a jack-knifed semi-trailer truck that was blocking the slippery travel lanes, the California Highway Patrol said.

Otherwise, chains were required on all but four-wheel-drive vehicles with snow tires on a 43-mile stretch of the interstate over the top of the Sierra north of Tahoe between Gold Run and Truckee.

The Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee issued a backcountry avalanche warning through Friday for the Central Sierra Nevada, including the Tahoe area.

“Feet of new snow and strong winds will overload an already weak snowpack and result in very dangerous avalanche conditions in the mountains,” the center said Thursday.

(Associated Press contributed to this article.)

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