Thunderstorms could bring rain, fires

08/03/2014 6:55 PM

08/03/2014 6:56 PM

An overcast sky Sunday tamped down a heat wave in the Modesto area and brought a chance of rain and dry lightning to higher elevations.

The National Weather Service said the unusual summer conditions could last until Thursday in the Sierra Nevada. It forecast as much as 0.6 inches of rain in the Strawberry area, close to watersheds supplying part of the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The storm could bring dry lightning that might exacerbate the wildfire situation. The blazes include one near El Portal that had burned 4,689 acres but was 89 percent contained as of Sunday, according to federal officials.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency that includes Mariposa and 10 other counties. In his proclamation, issued Saturday, Brown stated that the wildfires “are likely beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single government.”

The Modesto Irrigation District reported a high of 87 degrees Sunday, about 15 degrees cooler than Friday’s scorcher. Sunday failed by far to match the lowest high on record for the date — 76 degrees in 1953. The highest high was 106 in 1998. The historical average is 93.

The cooler weather meant better conditions than Friday and Saturday for people watching the Modesto Grand Prix on several downtown streets.

The weather service forecast low to mid-90s in Modesto for this week. A slight chance of sprinkles is predicted for Tuesday morning.

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