Storm expected to bring much-needed rain to Merced, snow to Sierra

A storm system is expected to bring a chance of rain to the parched San Joaquin Valley and snow to the Sierra by today and Wednesday, but it will be clearing out just in time for the weekend, the National Weather Service in Hanford reported.

Warm, sunny days with some clouds are expected before the storm moves into the region, according to the forecast. Monday’s high in Merced was 66 degrees degrees with a low expected to drop to 43 degrees. Daytime temperatures will gradually dip to the mid-60s with overnight lows in the upper 40s, possibly even the 30s, by Friday.

Rain is possible in Merced starting late today or early Wednesday, with clearing expected to begin on Thursday, the forecast says.

“We are expecting moderate rain in the Valley, but we’re not expecting any thunderstorms,” meteorologist Jim Andersen said.

The storm is expected to drop 2 to 3 inches of snow above 8,000 feet on the southern Sierra Nevada. The state Department of Transportation planned to close Sonora Pass and Ebbets Pass in advance of the expected storm.

Winds are expected up to 10 mph. The rain will slicken leaves on the ground and oil on the streets; authorities advise caution when driving, particularly during one of the first storms of the season.

“We’ve begun the wet season,” Andersen said. “This storm is a shift to normal patterns.”

That’s good news for the Valley, which has recorded only 0.10 of an inch so far this rainfall season. Normal for this date is 1.82 inches of precipitation, weather records show.

Water managers and farmers will be watching the weather carefully because repeated dry years have resulted in low water storage levels. Another dry year would only compound their problems, with less water available for communities and growers.