Gusty winds to stir up Merced County's dry soil

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 18, 2014 

Forecasters say Merced County is set to experience some gusty winds this week that will send the region’s dry soil up into dust clouds.

Compounding the dust clouds is the projected lack of rain in the seven-day forecast, according to Jim Andersen of the National Weather Service in Hanford. “Some of the area close to Merced will be under a wind advisory,” he said.

Andersen said the winds will be greatest, as they usually are, on the West Side of the county, but Merced will also experience some gusty conditions. The National Weather Service issued the wind advisory through 10 p.m. today.

Drivers should watch out for sudden gusts of wind that pick up the dry earth and blow it around, causing visibility on the road to be low. Winds could reach 30 mph, Andersen said. The windy, dusty conditions could pose air quality problems and related health issues for some residents.

Temperatures will creep up through the week, Andersen said, and continue the trend of unseasonably warm weather. The temperature will be a degree or two warmer than average for this time of year.

February has continued the trend of a dry year with 0.55 inches to date, when 1.35 inches would be normal. In a season that should tally 7.77 inches of precipitation, Merced has counted 1.87 inches through today.

The oncoming weather system may bring light precipitation over the northern mountains and northern Sierra Nevada, but will dissipate before reaching the Central Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

The Sierra snowpack continues to be well below normal, with the northern portion at 15 percent, according to measurements by the California Department of Water Resources. The monthly snow survey is intended to measure snow depth and water content in a region crucial to statewide water supplies.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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