Mariposa & Yosemite

Wet, windy week ahead for region

Valley residents can expect a wet holiday week as the first of three storms sweeps through the area today.

The storms could drop a little more than a half-inch of rain in the Valley and up to 2 to 3 feet of snow in the Sierra before giving way to fog and near-freezing temperatures by the weekend.

On Sunday, rain began falling in Merced about 2 p.m. and gradually moved down the Valley and into the mountains. Merced had 0.09 of an inch of rain, Madera 0.14 and Fresno 0.06 as of 8 p.m. Sunday.

A fierce storm in the Pacific Northwest forced cancellation Sunday of a handful of flights into and out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Horizon Air canceled four Seattle flights -- two departures and two arrivals -- and two Portland flights -- a departure and an arrival -- on Sunday, said airport spokeswoman Vikkie Calderon.

Rain is expected to continue falling throughout today. Area residents should get a break Tuesday, before showers return Wednesday and Christmas Day, said Jim Dudley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Hanford.

"We basically have five days of unsettling weather," he said. "By late Friday, the rain should be ending."

Valley highs will be about 50, and lows will hover around 40 through Friday, he said.

The rainfall total for the three storms coming from the Pacific Northwest will be about six-tenths of an inch on the Valley floor, Dudley said.

The snow level should drop to about 4,000 feet today, he said. About 2 to 3 feet of snow is expected to accumulate at about 5,000 feet. "There are going to be some happy skiers," he said.

However, the precipitation could cause holiday travel problems over the Grapevine and Tehachapi Pass, where snow could fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas, he said. Overnight lows near freezing and fog could return to the Valley on Saturday and Sunday, Dudley said.