Update: Flood warnings for areas already wet near Fresno. Thunderstorm possible in Tulare

·3 min read
CRAIG KOHLRUSS/ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

9:15 a.m. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he continues to deploy personnel and equipment to help counties struggling with inclement weather.

Officials noted the state has been hit by 12 atmospheric rivers since late December.

“We’re continuing to mobilize an all-hands-on-deck response to protect Californians during this latest round of devastating storms,” Newsom said in a news release. “With communities from San Diego to Siskiyou County reeling from recent storms, the state is working closely with federal and local partners to provide immediate relief and support the ongoing recovery.”

Forty-three of the state’s 58 counties are under a state of emergency, which Newsom proclaimed. President Biden issued a Presidential Emergency Declaration authorizing federal assistance to support the efforts.

Personnel from Cal Fire, the California Highway Patrol and the California National Guard have been deployed throughout the state, the news release said.

Here are some highlights in the Valley:

  • Some of the 58 guardsmen from Task Force Rattlesnake were deployed in Tulare County to assist with debris and snow removal. Mono and Placer counties also benefited from those 58.

  • Field staff from the California Department of Food and Agriculture were in Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Stanislaus counties working with dairies to help evaluate animal evacuation needs, the release said.

  • In Merced, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency was working with Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño and the UC Merced Community and Labor Center to identify what support was needed for those in Planada, which was flooded by the rising of Bear Creek.

Thunderstorms in forecast

7:30 a.m. Forecasters say there’s a chance of strong thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon south of Fresno County.

The chance for potentially dangerous lightning and small hail is from noon to 7 p.m. in Tulare, Delano, Bakersfield and farther south, the National Weather Service in Hanford said.

“Any thunderstorm can produce intense rain, leading to flooding,” the service said on social media.

Meteorologists suggests anyone who hears thunder to go indoors and stay inside until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap.

Flood warning

6:45 a.m. Meteorologists issued a flood warning for the San Joaquin Valley on Wednesday for any areas below 4,000 feet.

Rain forecast through the evening could mean flooding for creeks, rivers and other low-lying areas of the Valley, according to the National Weather Service in Hanford. Storm drains could also be clogged.

The heaviest rain was expected in the afternoon and could worsen the flooding that has already led to evacuations, especially in Tulare County where flooding threatens the historic California community of Allensworth.

The rain seen in recent weeks in atmospheric rivers has left the Valley recording water levels and events not seen in decades.

The service estimated a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain Wednesday in the Valley in Fresno, Madera, Hanford and other areas. Precipitation could be closer to an inch in the foothills.

Snowfall of 8 to 12 inches was expected at Shaver Lake in Fresno County and in Lodgepole, which is in Sequoia National Park. Yosemite National Park may see about an inch of snow.

Tulare County evacuations

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said areas ordered to evacuate along Highway 43, like Allensworth and Alpaugh, have seen residents not following the order and being stranded.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux called for assistance from other local law enforcement agencies to help patrol roadblocks and monitor flooding.