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Cool temperatures, rain not that unusual in May, reports National Weather Service
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May weather statistics

• As of 5 p.m. on May 25, .21 inches of rain fell during the month in the Modesto area, which includes Turlock

• The normal rainfall amount for May, as of May 25, is .49 inches.

• Most rain fall for a single day in May was 1.32 inches on May 15, 1996

• In 1960, no recordable amount of rain fell in Turlock during the month of May

• The highest recorded temperature for the Month of May was 103 degrees on May 31, 2001

Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start of summer for most sun bathers and outdoor barbecuers, but this week's cool and rainy weather seemed more like winter. The clouds are expected to clear just in time for the long weekend, and that will be a relief for vacationers and farmers alike.

Many Turlock area residents are asking why they still need sweaters and umbrellas in the middle of May. Forecasters say that this month's weather might seem unusual compared to the previous few years, but actual rainfall levels are lower than what is considered normal for May. As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Modesto had received 0.21 inches of rainfall so far in the month of May. The normal amount of rainfall for the same time frame is 0.49 inches, more than twice the amount of precipitation.

“(Rainfall) is below normal, but it doesn't seem that way because it's been so cool and cloudy,” said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service's Sacramento office.

Swanberg described the weather as a very late and reluctant spring. Temperature highs have also been below normal for the Turlock area. Johnnie Powell, also a forecaster in the NWS Sacramento office, said that highs would not reach 90 for the rest of the month. Powell and Swanberg both said that although rain in the last few weeks of May is a little unusual, it is not unheard of.

In 2008 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought. Farmers in the Turlock area have had to cut back on the amount of water they use to irrigate crops. Recent rainfall has increased the amount of water available to Turlock Irrigation District in the Tuolumne River watershed and Turlock Lake. For the first time since 2006, Don Pedro is close to full.

The recent rainfall has been a mixed bag for local growers. Although the water is needed during drought conditions to irrigate most crops, it could spell disaster for local cherry growers. The cool weather has also meant a late season for most local crops.

Ron Macedo, a local grower of a variety of crops, said that the low temperatures have slowed everything down. He said that most crops have been slow to ripen, and harvest will be a little later this year. Although he does not grow cherries himself, Macedo said that this weather could ruin local cherry crops. He explained that cherries close to harvest will absorb rain water and split open. Not many buyers will take split cherries.

“I'm sure cherry growers are nervous as heck right now,” Macedo said on Tuesday afternoon, before the rain started to fall in Turlock.

The California Cherry Board identified Memorial Day as the start of the California Cherry Season in a recent press release.

Although this week's rain is expected to continue off and on until Friday, Memorial Day weekend should be sunny. The Turlock area should expect highs in the low 80s for the three day weekend. This is welcome news for residents who can enjoy the outdoors again without a sweater, and for cherry growers who have been sweating the rain.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.