MOUNTAIN AREA — While the forecast for this weekend’s rain is less drastic than previously anticipated, we’re still expecting a winter storm strong enough to bring sufficient precipitation that the National Weather Service in Hanford has issued a storm and flash flood watch for the region, especially notable for burn scar areas.
Winter Storm Watch
A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Kings Canyon and the Tulare County Mountains above 5,000 feet, starting in the afternoon on Friday, Feb. 1 and continuing through Monday evening.
A Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for significant snow that may impact travel. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.
Heavy snow is expected above 5,000 feet, with total snow accumulations through the weekend up to 5 feet. Winds could gust as high as 70 miles per hour along the crest. Snow levels will start out Friday afternoon around 7,000 feet and drop to around 5,000 on Saturday. Snow levels will drop below 4000 feet Sunday night and Monday.
There will be a break in the snow early on Sunday, say NWS forecasters, and heavy snow will return on Sunday afternoon and continue through Monday evening.
Travel could be very difficult to impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute. Very strong winds could cause extensive damage to trees and power lines.
Flash Flood Watch
The Flash Flood Watch is in effect from Friday evening, Feb. 1, through Saturday evening, Feb. 2, for the local foothills and area mountains below 7,000 feet. This watch is for the Madera, Mariposa and Fresno County Foothills, and the Tulare County Foothills, and the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Kings Canyon and the Tulare County Mountains. Included are the towns of Ahwahnee, Bass Lake, Coarsegold, Fish Camp, Mariposa, North Fork, Oakhurst, and Wawona, along with others.
A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.
During this time, heavy rain totaling from 2 to as much as 4 inches may lead to excessive runoff, rising water levels on area rivers and streams and a threat of flash flooding. Additionally, mud slides, rock slides and debris flows are possible in some locations, especially in the vicinity of the Ferguson, Railroad and Pier burn scars. Some roads may become closed, impassable, or washed out.
You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued. If you live in a flood prone area, this would be a good time to review an emergency escape plan in the event high water or a debris flow threatens your home.