Two storms are expected to bring much-needed rain to the region this week, with the first hitting the Valley on Wednesday and the second, larger system arriving on Friday.
The first storm could bring half an inch of rain to Merced and the second one as much as an inch, according to the National Weather Service. The news comes as only slight relief as California endures its driest year in recorded history.
The storms wont end the drought, but forecasters said the systems could signal an important change in the weather. A ridge of high pressure forcing storms to the north of California is gone, opening the door for the return of a more typical storm pattern for the region.
The weaker of the two storms is expected to arrive in the Merced area Wednesday, bringing afternoon showers that could last into Thursday morning. By Friday, the forecast calls for the wind to kick up and temperatures to drop as the more powerful second system hits. Rain is expected throughout the day and possibly into Saturday. Snow is expected above 7,000 feet.
If the storms bring whats expected, they will give rainfall totals a big boost. This month, only 0.63 of an inch of rain has fallen. Normal rainfall for the period is 1.90 inches. Since the July 1 start of the rain year, Merced has had 1.95 inches, well short of the average of 8.32 inches typically recorded by this time.
Springlike conditions will remain until the clouds move in. The forecast is for temperatures in the low 70s today, with only a slight drop into the upper 60s on Wednesday.
By Thursday, cooler conditions are expected and temperatures could fall into the mid-50s by Friday. Temperatures are likely to remain in the 60s through most of next week, according to the forecast.