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Winter in May? Southern Sierra Nevada foothills brace for cold storm

Storm clouds revisit Fresno leaving more rain in their wake

Fresno, California, was revisited by storm clouds Wednesday, March 27, 2019, leaving more rain in their wake.
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Fresno, California, was revisited by storm clouds Wednesday, March 27, 2019, leaving more rain in their wake.

Southern Sierra Nevada weather will be much colder and wetter than expected this week due to a “winter-like” storm system, according to weather officials.

The storm, forecast to begin Wednesday and end Friday morning, is expected to bring more than an inch of rain to foothill communities such as Oakhurst, Coarsegold and Mariposa, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Jim Bagnall. Snow levels are expected to begin at 5,500 feet, with the High Sierras receiving up to a foot of snow.

Temperatures are expected to be as much as 20 degrees below normal for this time of year. On Thursday, the National Weather forecasts highs of 57 degrees in Oakhurst and 53 degrees in Mariposa.

“It’s not typical. We normally would be moving into our summertime patterns and we start getting ridge and high pressure building, getting into our hot and dry weather,” Bagnall said. “This is definitely not a typical weather pattern for our area.”

Bagnall said there was no explanation as to why the region was seeing weather patterns like this so late into the spring. He added that storm systems like this are an anomaly that occur once every few years, the last being 2015.

As with other wet storm systems, the weather service warned of possible flash flooding and debris flow, especially in the area of the Ferguson Fire burn scar.

Last Thursday, thunderstorms in the area forced the closure of Highway 140 as a precautionary measure against mudslides. The Highway was reopened later that night.

Bagnall also asked that those driving in the foothills proceed with caution as the wet weather could make for hazardous driving conditions.

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