In offices, shops and restaurants throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley on Thursday, the same question could be heard: “What is that stuff falling from the sky?”
Kidding aside, the greater Modesto area welcomed its first measurable rain in months. Though it was by no means a deluge – the Modesto Irrigation District measured 17 hundredths of an inch by late afternoon – every drop was appreciated, even by those for whom it caused a slight headache.
“We’ll take it anytime we can get it,” said Dave Baker, director of member relations for Blue Diamond Growers. Much of the harvest already has been collected. For the nuts still in the orchards, it’s a matter of waiting a few days for them to dry out before harvesting.
“Unless we start getting a lot more rain, it’s not going to be a problem,” Baker said.
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Looking at the forecast from the National Weather Service, it’s not going to be a problem.
Come Friday, the clouds are expected to clear out, with highs in the mid- to upper 70s. Lows will dip into the upper 50s, forecasters say. Mostly sunny conditions with light winds are expected to continue through the weekend, with highs of about 78. That’s a good 15 degrees cooler than the area has been experiencing recently, and several degrees lower than normal for this time of year.
Temperatures are expected to rise as the work week gets underway, with highs in the mid 80s expected Monday and Tuesday.
Thursday’s rain, coming after so many months of dry conditions, did make for slippery streets. Local police and the California Highway Patrol reported several fender benders throughout the morning.
A few customers of the Modesto Irrigation District also experienced short power failures as the rain fell on dust-covered lines. “This isn’t unusual with the first rain of the season,” MID spokeswoman Melissa Williams wrote in an email.
Turlock Irrigation District, which recorded just under a tenth of an inch of rain at its Canal weather station, reported no problems as of Thursday afternoon.
“So far, this storm has not produced much rainfall, but it sure is a welcome change,” spokesman Calvin Curtin said. “Hopefully, it’s an omen of good things to come this winter.”