More badly needed rain and snow in the forecast for Valley, Sierra

jholland@modbee.comFebruary 4, 2014 

California could get a couple more doses of rain and snow this week, though still not enough to cure its severe case of dehydration.

The National Weather Service forecast a 30 percent chance of rain in Modesto on Wednesday, 50 percent Thursday and 30 percent Thursday night. A partly cloudy Friday could follow, then possible rain from Saturday to Monday.

The first storm could bring snow down to about 2,500 feet in the Sierra Nevada, roughly the east Sonora area, unlike a system last week that kept snow at much higher elevations.

“A series of low-pressure systems will bring much-needed rain and snow in the next seven days,” said an email update Tuesday from the weather service office in Sacramento. “While light showers are expected across the Valley, moderate snow accumulations will be possible over the mountains.”

Last week’s rain was the first recorded in Modesto since Dec. 7, a 53-day dry stretch at a time of year that usually has several storms. The Modesto Irrigation District has recorded only about a third of the average rain at its downtown gauge, with just two months to go in the main part of the storm season.

The central Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 18 percent of average Tuesday, the California Department of Water Resources reported. The snow, which usually provides ample water for the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area, was at 12 percent before last week’s storm.

The Dodge Ridge ski area, off Highway 108 near Pinecrest, finally could welcome skiers and snowboarders if weather permits. “We remain poised and committed to opening on a moment’s notice,” managers said in an online update Tuesday.

California is in a third straight year of drought, made worse by greatly reduced storage in reservoirs.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

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