Wet weather is not enough to improve area rainfall totals

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comMarch 6, 2013 

— Merced residents woke up to wet roads and moderate rainfall on Wednesday, but not nearly enough to make a dent in this year's below-average precipitation, officials said.

Wednesday's burst of rain brought about 0.19 inches within 24 hours, according to Jim Andersen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

It fell short of the average rainfall for this time of year.

From Jan. 1 through Wednesday, the normal amount of rainfall -- based on 30 years of precipitation patterns -- is 5.48 inches, he said. Merced has seen about 1.61 inches so far since Jan. 1, down about 3.87 inches from normal.

Being nearly 4 inches drier than normal can affect valley farmers. Many are anxious about the below-normal water from the Sierra snowpack.

A month ago, Sierra snowpack was at 140 percent of the long-term average. However, after several early-season storms, a dry January has left conditions at 93 percent of average.

Andersen predicts some scattered rain today, lasting through the night and into Friday morning.

"We can't rule it out," he said. "There's a 40 percent chance of rain throughout the day (Thursday), but it will be highly scattered. Thursday night will be the best chance of rain."

Scattered rainfall could leave some parts of Merced dry, while people in other areas will likely need to break out their umbrellas, Andersen said.

Although Friday morning may bring slight showers, Andersen forecast that the chance of rain will diminish throughout the day,leading to a dry weekend.

"As we get to the weekend, we'll be out of the woods as far as rain goes," Andersen said. "By Saturday, we'll be mostly sunny, but probably see a few clouds in the area."

Sunday should lend itself to a mostly sunny sky, with a few clouds, he added.

Saturday's high is expected to be 63 degrees, and Sunday should be about 67.

Next week will see a return of sunshine and temperatures in the 70s. Andersen predicted a high of 71 on Monday, 73 on Tuesday and 74 on Wednesday.

But if you're going out at night, bring a light jacket because the evening temperatures will dip into the lower 30s over the weekend and lower 40s starting on Monday.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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