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Sunny skies ahead as mega-storm heads east, leaving impressive rain totals


Warmer weather and sunshine are coming to the central San Joaquin Valley after a powerful — and memorable — storm from an atmospheric river moved east of the region, leaving behind a bounty of rainfall, the National Weather Service reported.

But hefty rains are likely over for this season, said Tim Dudley, meteorologist at the weather forecast office in Hanford.

A passing front may bring some precipitation to the region Saturday, but it won't be anything to brag about. It'll be the tail of a Pacific storm and the forecast is a measly five-hundredths of an inch in Fresno.

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After that a ridge is forecast to form that will keep out storms.

Even so, this March should be celebrated as a good month for rain with a total of 4.18 inches falling in Fresno, he said. Even if there's no more rain, March will go down as the 11th wettest on record, Dudley said.

"If we get one-hundredth of an inch (from the next storm), it'll be No. 10," he said.

But what about April? Is there a chance for another atmospheric river dumping rain on the region? There's not much rain in the Climate Prediction Center's new 15-day outlook that came out Friday.

"The outlook is dryer and warmer than normal in the first week of April," Dudley said.

Historically, April is a month with not much rain in Fresno, he said. The average is .95 inches.

There are exceptions, though. Last April, Fresno registered 3.42 inches. And in 1967, the city totaled 4.41 inches.

For the calendar year to date, Fresno has now received 5.67 inches of rain. That's on par with the average of 5.75 inches for calender year to date.

But in terms of season totals starting on Oct. 1, Fresno is below normal with a total of 6.08 inches, compared to the average of 9.22 inches.

"We're about two-thirds of normal so far," Dudley said.

A drenching storm

This week's storm, which caused areas of flooding during drenching downpours Wednesday and Thursday, dropped 2.71 inches in Fresno from Tuesday to Friday morning. Other totals were 2.42 inches in Madera, 1.33 inches in Visalia and 1.31 inches in Hanford, according to the weather service.

The real eye-popping numbers were in the Sierra. Yosemite recorded 5.29 inches; Mariposa 5.37 inches; Oakhurst 6.7 inches and Bass Lake 4.02 inches.

Meteorologist Jim Andersen noted the power behind the big storm totals were Thursday's thunderstorms in the mountain areas.

"They do a really good job of releasing a lot of rain at one time," he said.


Thursday's downpours prompted a flash flood warning in the Mariposa area and areas of flooding in Fresno at Shields and Maroa avenues in the central area and Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue in the city's northeast.

Early Friday, Fresno firefighters rushed to the San Joaquin River above Woodward Park, where rain-swollen water flooded a campground and four people were rescued.

Also Friday, city workers discovered that part of the Old Eaton Trail in Woodward Park had washed out. It will stay closed for repairs.

Mariposa County hard hit

Heavy rains wreaked havoc on Mariposa County, damaging homes, cutting emergency phone lines and closing roads, some of which were completely wiped out by flooding, according to authorities assessing the damage Friday.

"We have crews assessing the damage and we are updating the (Mariposa County) website with the most current conditions and information," said Kristie Mitchell, public information officer for the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office. Mitchell said the total extent of the damage remained unclear Friday morning.

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office also continued to search for a woman who went missing "as a result of the storms" Thursday, according to Mitchell.

Few details were released about the missing woman.

The Merced Sun-Star contributed. Jim Guy: 559-441-6339, @jimguy27
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