Courtesy of Yosemite National Park
Recent rain has created conditions similar to spring runoff in Yosemite National Park, which rarely has autumn waterfalls.
A storm system dropped welcome water on Madera County late this week. While it moved out Friday night, a colder system may bring snow to the mountains late tonight or Sunday.
“The rainfall that we got is going to put everybody — all the major cities — back to like average for this month,” guessed meteorologist technician William Peterson of the San Joaquin Valley Weather Forecast Office in Hanford. “And since the water year started Oct. 1, we’ll be average for the water year. So we should be doing at least average.”
The Madera Municipal Airport received 0.40 inches of rain as of Friday afternoon, he said. Hidden Dam took in 0.66 inches. Bass Lake had 1.08 to 1.18 inches.
“The Oakhurst area got about the same thing,” he detailed. “We’re talking (between) about 0.60 and about an inch. Coarsegold got about 0.83 so far. Fish Camp higher up 1.62. Shaver Lake got 1.11 … They got pretty good up there in the foothills and the higher elevations … The valley floor at Yosemite received 1.37.” Dinkey Creek in the Shaver Lake area had “a little over two inches.”
Yosemite National Park has closed Tioga Road from from Crane Flat to Lee Vining in response to the recent storm. Tioga Road usually closes from fall through the winter months, and reopens in spring when weather and road conditions permit.
Yosemite National Park is open year-round with snow removal on all other park roads, which are subject to chain control or temporary closures as needed. Drivers in the park are required to carry tire chains even if their vehicle has four-wheel drive.
Cal Fire lifted its burn permit suspension in all state responsibility areas Friday in Madera, Mariposa and Merced counties.
“It’s a very good blessing to be having this time of the year,” said Madera County Farm Bureau president Jay Mahil about the rain. “It started earlier and we’re happy about that. Hopefully it’s not a tease. We don’t want it to happen fast and furious. We want it slow and continuous. We really need to recharge our aquifer. We want it to come in phases to help out Madera County.”
The timing of the storms has been ideal, according to Mahil.
“In Madera County, most all agricultural harvest is done for now, so there’s very little impact on damages for right now,” he said. “Most all growers have already harvested their crops.”
The impact extends far beyond farmers, however. “It really helps everyone in the community, not just agriculture. It’s a blessing for everybody,” Mahil said.
The delivery from above is a hopeful start to the 2016-2017 water season, which began Oct. 1. The state’s Department of Water Resources said the last water year officially closed with lower-than expected rainfall and a “snow drought,” because most precipitation came as rain rather than snow amid record warm temperatures. It categorized the year as “dry” statewide, making it California’s fifth consecutive year of drought.
Prior to this week’s precipitation, about 60 percent of the state remained in severe or extreme drought, according to the department. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center predicts slightly better than even odds that a weak La Nina weather pattern will form this fall and winter.
For the latest weather forecast, call 584-0312 or visit www.weather.gov/hanford. Call 209-372-0200 for updated 24-hour Yosemite road and weather conditions.