The preliminary numbers are in and the Merced region got a good start for a relatively light rainstorm Thursday, according to weather reports.
Merced saw 0.27 inches of rain early Thursday, which is more than was forecast, according to meteorologist Jim Andersen of the National Weather Service in Hanford.
Andersen was quick to point out that most readings are taken in the early morning, so places such as Merced, where it rained until around lunchtime, received more rain than the measurements indicate. However, the readings were a good start.
“It’s going to help somewhat,” Andersen said. “This is not going to be a drought-buster. We’re way too far behind the curve.”
Andersen said Los Banos got 0.46 inches of rain, while Mariposa saw 0.27 and Yosemite National Park got 0.21 inches early in the day.
Rainfall was heavier just south of Merced County. Madera recorded 0.77 inches and Fresno saw 0.79 inches. Today is expected to be mostly dry, Andersen said.
“There are still a few scattered, light showers – maybe some drizzle – moving through,” he said.
The storm brought snow down to about 2,500 feet in the Sierra Nevada, a few miles east of Sonora. The snowpack for the central part of the range stood at 19 percent of average early Thursday, up from 18 percent a day earlier, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
The Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite National Park plans to open its cross-country area today but still lacks enough snow for downhill skiing. The snow was deeper up higher, but the Dodge Ridge ski area could still be a few days away from its long-delayed opening.
Weekend snowfall could make the difference, officials at Dodge Ridge said Thursday. Bear Valley, east of Arnold, has been open with limited terrain but could expand with this week’s snow.
A second storm system is expected to arrive Saturday. Andersen said precipitation has a 70 percent chance of falling that day, and there’s a slightly lower chance Sunday. Showers could linger Monday.
At about 2 inches to date for the rainy season, Merced’s total pales in comparison to its average of 6.78 inches. The weekend showers are predicted to be about as heavy as Thursday’s rainfall.
The temperature will warm up by Saturday, with a high close to 60 degrees.
Andersen said long-range models show some signs of dry weather coming.
“It looks like we’ll be be in the mid-60s for most of (next) week,” Andersen said. “It looks like we may return to another dry pattern as well, which would not be good.”
The region has faced three dry years and farmers are bracing for a rough season. Water rates, emergency planning and a drastically shortened growing season will likely be the major themes of a drought meeting today hosted by the Merced Irrigation District.
The 2014 Drought Crisis and Water Supply Outlook meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.