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What to expect: Rain, snow, road closures in the Central Valley, foothills - and freezing temps

This is how Marines train for warfare in icy, snowy conditions northeast of Yosemite National Park

U.S. Marines extricate themselves from a hole in the ice on a lake in winter and mountainous warfare skills training.
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U.S. Marines extricate themselves from a hole in the ice on a lake in winter and mountainous warfare skills training.

A storm will pummel the central San Joaquin Valley through Sunday, leaving freezing temperatures in its wake on Monday and perhaps Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. In addition, snow dropped in mountain areas will create hazardous conditions for driving.

Fresno totaled .32 inches of rain Sunday, bringing the season to date to 6.65 inches – just ahead of the normal 6.39.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Yosemite, Kings Canyon and the Tulare County mountains until 4 a.m. Monday. Fourteen inches of new snow fell in Yosemite Valley as of 9 a.m. Sunday. Snowpack was at 30 inches.

Weather service meteorologist Andy Bollenbacher said this storm is unique because of the low snow levels, as low as 1,900 feet, and Coarsegold and Oakhurst have seen snow.

Yosemite Valley was expected to get three to five more inches of accumulated snow Sunday. About 150 concessions workers in Yosemite were displaced Friday after a storm damaged employee housing.

Highways 120 and 41 were closed inside of Yosemite National Park as of Sunday morning, due to heavy snow accumulation. Park officials said the closure would remain in effect until conditions improved.

Highway 168 near Fire Beal Road was also closed due to snow on Sunday morning, affecting motorists going to or coming from Shaver Lake or China Peak.

As skies clear Sunday evening, temperatures will drop to freezing in the Valley, prompting a Freeze Watch. Isolated areas could hit 25 degrees, but most areas will be between 27 and 32 degrees overnight Sunday into Monday morning. A Freeze Warning, which means low temperatures are possible, is in effect for Tuesday morning.

Monday and Tuesday should have clear skies, then another chance of rain arrives Wednesday, Bollenbacher said. Snow is forecast to return to the Sierra Nevada mountains beginning Tuesday evening. This next storm is expected to be warmer, which could result in melting snow on burn scars.

The storm is good news for rain and snowpack levels. Bollenbacher said January was pretty active, bringing rain totals to near normal, and after Wednesday’s storm, levels will be above average.

Snow levels in higher elevations in the Sierra are already between 150 to 180 percent of normal, he said.

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National Weather Service

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPan

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