Mercedians used to balmy autumn-like weather likely got a shock this morning.
A cold, wet storm, forecast to bring about half an inch of rain to the Northern San Joaquin Valley and up to two feet of snow in the mountains, hit Sunday evening.
Michael Bingham, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Hanford, said the cold storm was not expected to be windy, but residents of nearby Mariposa and the foothills may wake up to snow on the ground.
"We're looking at the snow level to come down to about 1,500 feet," said Bingham. The lower foothills could get a couple of inches of rain, and elevations up to 2,000 feet may see about two inches of snow.
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Bingham said Yosemite Valley could get up to a foot of snow, while the higher elevations of the national park could see more than two feet of snow.
The chance of rain was 90 percent for today, with a low of about 33 degrees in Merced. The winds were expected to be almost quiet, only about 9 miles per hour. The high was expected to be about 46. There is a 40 percent chance of showers on Tuesday night, with a high of about 45 and a low of about 30.
Today and Tuesday, there is a winter storm warning in the mountains, according to Bingham.
The rain is welcome, especially by ranchers who have seen poor grazing land in the foothills for their cattle this year.
This rain should help bring up the grass in the hills that cattle normally graze on in the winter and spring months. Ranchers have had to supplement their cattle because of sparse rainfall this fall. The Merced area has only received about 25 percent of the average rainfall for this time of the year. Normal rainfall for the entire year is about 12 inches.
The rain should taper off by Wednesday, but Bingham said that another system, although not as cold, may be in the forecast for the weekend.
"We should get a break on Thursday, and then hopefully another storm by Friday," Bingham said.
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.