Rumbling thunder shook the Merced area on Thursday, with showers occurring in the morning, and some hail in the early afternoon.
Thunderstorms were especially strong in Atwater, where there were reports of hail an inch in diameter, with most about the size of a nickel, according to meteorologist Jim Andersen of the National Weather Service Hanford. Atwater also had several lightning strikes that were picked up by weather service sensors.
Andersen said the thunderstorms and hail were the result of a very cold, stationary low-pressure system sitting over the middle of the Central Valley. It pulled moisture into the cold air at higher elevations, triggering the hail, rain and thunderstorms.
Most of the activity happened between 1 and 3 p.m., he said, tapering off into the evening and putting the chance for showers at 60 percent overnight.
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Andersen reported 0.56 inches of rain for Merced, with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms on Friday. He said Saturday should be mostly sunny, with the temperature reaching 84 degrees by Mother’s Day on Sunday and staying dry, with temperatures in the low 80s through Thursday of next week.
As usual, recent precipitation doesn’t do much to affect drought conditions. On the positive side, Andersen said, any rain is good and can moisten up some of the dry foliage that can fuel wildfires.
The Sierra also received some much-needed moisture.
At Yosemite National Park, a foot of snow was reported at Chinquapin, the junction to Glacier Point at 6,000 feet, according to ranger Scott Gediman, a park spokesman.
Gediman said it snowed all through the day in Tuolumne Meadows on Thursday. Tioga Pass and Glacier Point Road were closed.
“Clearly we need and welcome all the snow we can get,” Gediman said, echoing the sentiment from Andersen, adding that it will keep the valley’s waterfalls flowing longer.
Despite some minor spinouts by cars and Yosemite Valley being socked in with clouds, Gediman reported no injuries due to the weather and said he hopes to open the roads soon for the many guests visiting the valley when the weather clears up.
Sun-Star staff writer Christopher Winterfeldt can be reached at email@example.com.