8 a.m. UPDATE: Downtown Modesto has received .11 of an inch of rain, starting at 1 a.m. A few accidents have been reported on rain-slickened roads, and there the Modesto Police Department reports that Claus Road is closed near Johansen High School due to downed power lines after an accident.
The storm that gathered Wednesday night was looking as though it could bring a decent amount of rain and snow to a state thats sorely lacking.
The National Weather Service sees an 80 percent chance of showers in the Modesto area today, up from 50 percent in an earlier forecast. It also penciled in a chance of rain Friday, which earlier had been expected to be dry in advance of another storm over the weekend.
Modesto could get 1 to 2 inches of rain through Sunday, according to an update Wednesday from the weather service office in Sacramento. Just 2.28 inches have fallen during this storm season, according to the Modesto Irrigation Districts downtown gauge a third of average for the date.
This water supplier and several others care more about their watersheds in the central Sierra Nevada, which state hydrologists reported at 18 percent of average as of Tuesday. The weather service projected up to 3 feet of new snow through Sunday at high elevations and up to 2 feet at middle elevations. The upper foothills could get a little snow today.
The Dodge Ridge ski area had the same message Wednesday as it has had for a few days: If it snows enough, it can open quickly.
Drivers in the mountains should carry chains and watch for hazardous conditions. The weather service also warned of small floods yes, floods in spots with heavy downpours.
The rain and snow follow a storm last week that was the first to hit the Northern San Joaquin Valley in nearly eight weeks. The storm season typically begins in October and is going strong in December, but there are only two months to go and a lot of ground to make up. The past two years also were less than average, but reservoir storage has helped the region through.
Also Wednesday, federal officials announced up to $14 million to help California water districts stretch their supplies with projects such as drip irrigation and capture of water that runs off fields. This came on top of $20 million announced Tuesday for similar purposes.
The $14 million is coming from the U.S Bureau of Reclamation and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The situation in California is critical and requires a swift and effective response at all levels of government, Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor said in a news release.
More information is at www.usbr.gov.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.