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February 28, 2014

Recent rain is 'just not enough' for Merced County farmers

Water officials welcomed all recent rainstorms, but said it still may be too little and too late to significantly help water-strapped farmers in Merced County.

Water and agricultural officials welcomed recent rainstorms, but said they still may be too little and too late to significantly help water-strapped farmers in Merced County.

“Every drop helps, but we’re so far behind the curve at this point that even these storms won’t get us where we need to be,” said Mike Jensen, a spokesman for the Merced Irrigation District.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Hanford said Merced has received nearly an inch of rain since Thursday and they expected 0.25 or 0.38 inches through Saturday.

“But we’re still going to be quite a bit below average for this time of year,” said meteorologist Jim Andersen.

The weather service said that after this weekend’s storms, Merced County will have collected just under 3 inches of rainfall for the year. The county typically gets nearly 9 inches in the same time frame in non-drought years.

“We are down almost six inches,” meteorologist Bill Peterson said.

Forecasters expected rain through Saturday with the weather clearing again Sunday. They called for a 20 percent chance of rain Monday and a clear sky again Tuesday, with temperatures climbing above 70 degrees.

The Merced County Farm Bureau called the drought “unprecedented.”

“The rain we’re having is very pleasant and welcome,” said Amanda Carvajal, the Farm Bureau’s executive director. “But it’s just not enough.”

Carvajal said farmers need more rain and a larger snowpack.

“We really are in uncharted waters now,” Carvajal said. “Every farmer, every water district meeting, you can really feel the tension everywhere.”

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