February 24, 2024
Central California first to feel onslaught of atmospheric river
FRESNO - Emergency coordinators in Fresno County have issued evacuation warnings for foothill and mountain communities in advance of a storm that is expected to drop as much as six to eight inches of rain over the coming week.

The atmospheric river storm, expected to arrive Thursday, will be warmer than previous systems that over recent weeks that have had snowfall measured in feet in the Sierra Nevada, including to elevations as low as 3,000 feet on the east side of Fresno County. Much, if not all, of that lower-elevation snow is likely to be melted away by the rainfall, creating the potential for flooded or washed-out roads in the mountains and possible flooding in communities on the floor of the San Joaquin Valley that are already prone to problems.

The evacuation warning went into effect at 1 p.m. Tuesday, said Fresno County Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Pursell, who added that the warning is not an order for people to leave their homes.

“The warning is letting people know there is potential to have to evacuate,” Pursell told the Fresno Bee. “We want to give people as much advance notice as we could, so people in the mountains can prepare for what they need.” With a day or two before the storm arrives, he added, residents in mountain communities have an opportunity to head down to the Valley floor and stock up on supplies in case they are forced to hunker down and shelter in place.

Kristian Mattarochia of the National Weather Service office in Hanford said the coming storm “will be unlike any other weather event so far this season.”

“We just want everyone to be prepared for impacts that have never been experienced before,” Mattarochia said. “What has happened over the past week is we’ve seen heavy snow at low-elevation foothills around 3,000 feet. And in less than a week, we’re going to put six to eight inches of rain on top of that.”

“The amount of rain we’re receiving, considering what’s already fallen, is unprecedented,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mountains, if you’re in the city of Fresno, if you’re in the western half of the county near Coalinga; we are expecting water problems to really affect everyone’s life.”

“We want everyone to be prepared for conditions we’ve never experienced before,” Mattarochia said.
Story Date: March 10, 2023
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