Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said a series of storms, beginning Friday, are likely to continue El Niño trends and cover the Mountain Area with rain and snow.
Jim Bagnall with the NWS station in Hanford said the storms will begin to snow in Yosemite National Park at around 8,000 feet noon Friday, then spread southward into Oakhurst and surrounding areas in a few hours.
Showers will continue in itermittent periods throughout the weekend, Bagnall said, as temperatures drop from a high of 65 and low of 42 in Oakhurst Friday to a high of 50 and low of 30 Sunday.
Bagnall said by late Sunday evening, snow levels are forecast to drop to 3,000 feet elevation, possibly as low as 2,500 feet should precipitation continue with those cooling temperatures.
“We’ll likely see some showers Monday,” Bagnall added. “It’s shaping up to be a great set of storms.”
A Winter Storm Watch was announced for the Southern Sierra Nevada Wednesday afternoon, running from noon Friday to 4 a.m. Monday. A flash flood watch was also issued in case of debris flows or flooding in rivers and small streams.
Possibly road closures may occur in Madera County areas as needed should floods take place, officials said.
During the entire weekend, Bagnall said as much as two feet of snow is predicted above 7,000 feet in Yosemite National Park, with four to ten inches at 5,000 feet or higher in areas like Fish Camp.
He said Oakhurst is forecast to receive 1.6 inches of rain during the weekend, with 1.95 inches expected in Bass Lake. Those numbers can vary as the storms approach and forecasts become more clear, Bagnall said.
Likely thanks to El Niño, both the Mountain Area and Valley floor are well above seasonal precipitation rates in normal years.
For the official government weather station in North Fork, located at the Bass Lake Ranger District office, Phil Messerschmitt said there has been 20.77 inches of rain from July 1 to Wednesday.
According to records kept since 1903, by the end of January in a normal season, the average total was 17.44 inches. The yearly average is slightly more than 32 inches, Messerschmitt said.
Into Monday, NWS meteorologists said Fresno had seen 3.37 inches of rain, 1.74 more than a 30-year record of 1.63 inches.
Weather trends indicate a season of above average precipitation following some of the driest years in state history.