Begininng Thursday morning, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Hanford (NWS) predict Oakhurst and surrounding locations will receive more than 4 inches of rain from a strong storm system called the “Pineapple Express,” and a flash flood watch has been issued.
The band of moisture, given its name as it moves across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii, could also lead to some snow as low as 3,500 feet elevation late Friday, meteorologist William Peterson said.
“Temperatures are going to drop Friday night into Saturday morning, but the precipitation should be mostly done by then,” Peterson said. “But when you have cold air, there are chances of showers, so we could see some stray snow showers in areas like Bass Lake or at similar elevations.”
Rainfall is forecast to begin around 5 a.m., with the heaviest shower periods will be between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, and continue into early Friday, with 4.37 inches of rain predicted in Oakhurst. The flash flood watch will last from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon.
The NWS wished to remind the public that debris flows, sometimes called mudslides, often happens in areas where rain causes soil to become saturated and flow downhill, picking up tree trunks, rocks, and other debris along the way.
Such events have been known to be deadly, and the NWS offers tips on how to prepare by clicking here.
In Oakhurst and surrounding areas, temperatures during the week average in the high 50s to low 60s, and in the mid to low 40s during nighttime hours. On Friday, those temperatures are forecast to drop significantly, with highs in the mid to low 40s and lows in the mid 20s. Those temperatures will remain at or near those levels until a slight warming Monday into next week.
Jim Andersen, another meteorologist at the Hanford office, said the storm is going to have significant impacts on the Valley and Mountain Area, including in Yosemite National Park, where the Merced River is predicted to rise to 14.7 feet, its highest level since 1982.
“This is actually a very strong storm,” Andersen said. “At least that we’ve seen in a good long while.”
For weather forecasts in the Mountain Area, click here.
In Fresno, 1 to 1.5 inches of rain is expected as well.
From storms last weekend, Oakhurst and the surrounding area received slightly more than an inch of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist William Peterson said.
North Fork received 1.25 inches from the storms Dec. 10-11, Peterson said, while Coarsegold received an average of about an inch, alongside the inch at the Madera County Sheriff’s Substation in Oakhurst.
Through records kept at the Bass Lake Ranger District office in North Fork since 1903, the area receives an average of about 32 inches of rain from July 1 to June 30 each year. Including the storms this past weekend, the station reported it had received 8.16 inches of rain for the year.