The arrival of El Nino is bringing with it a welcome downpour of rain, with close to three-fourths of an inch falling in Turlock.
The National Weather Service is forecasting additional storms to pass through the area over the next few days and weeks and issued a warning for Northern San Joaquin County of localized street flooding from clogged drains and culverts and possible power outages and fallen trees from gusty winds that could start late Tuesday and continue Wednesday. The chance of thunderstorms is high for Thursday.
As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday the Turlock Irrigation District’s Canal Drive station had recorded .74 of an inch of rain.
The steady stream of rain caused some localized street flooding around Turlock, though no major issues, said City of Turlock Utilities Manager Larry Gilley.
The majority of street flooding is caused by leaves and debris clogging the drains and gutters. Residents can remove leaves from the grating, but should not remove any storm grates or manhole covers.
“If residents can keep the leaves out of the drains that would help a lot,” Gilley said. “Also not parking on top of the drains. It’s surprising how much it blocks off.”
Residents concerned about street flooding can pick up sandbags at 901 S. Walnut Road in Turlock. Sandbags are given on a first come first serve basis with a limit of 10 per resident. Pick up times area from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The powerful El Nino system — a warming pattern that lifts vast amounts of precipitation from the Pacific Ocean, funnels it across North America and alters weather worldwide — is expected to cause unusual weather nationwide for months.
As much as 15 inches of rain could fall in the next 16 days in Northern California, with about 2 feet of snow expected in the highest points of the Sierra Nevada, said Johnny Powell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
Altogether, the storms should bring massive amounts of rain and snow to a very parched state this month, but water managers won't be able to fully estimate this year's snowmelt until April 1, when the snowpack is typically at its deepest.
"Mother Nature has a way of surprising or disappointing us," Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson said, explaining why water conservation must continue through what looks to be a wet winter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.