Rain! Welcomed by growers, hassle for drivers

FRESNO, Calif.

We are just beginning what will be a wet end to the week, and growers, who have been working with very little water, are keeping an eye on what's falling from the sky.

While most of us were sleeping on Wednesday night, heavy rain drops fell over parts of the Valley, including in Clovis. Drivers saw wet roads as they headed around town.

Early Thursday morning, police and firefighters responded to a crash in Clovis, where rain was a contributing factor. Authorities say the car hit a pole and caught fire. The people inside that car ran from the scene.

Through the weekend, several storms are expected to drop one to two inches or rain -- a welcome sight by Valley growers.

"It's been so dry here recently, that a lot of folks here have had to irrigate just because of the lack of precipitation we've had this year," said Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau.

Jacobson said these late-week storms should not be a big problem for almond and fruit trees that are blooming right now. "You don't want these long events either. You know, two days or three days max is probably the most you really want to do. After that it becomes really problematic for those blooms that are taking place at that time and the bees don't have a chance to fly."

Rain has been rare in the Valley, so no one really wants to complain about it. But the weather is impacting outdoor sporting events. The Diamond Dogs rescheduled its game against Bakersfield. And the four-day Tiger Classic Shootout at Edison High School may be delayed. "If you see any standing puddles on the field that's when we're worried about the safety of the players and that's when we'll cancel games," said Miranda Gonzales, head varsity softball coach.

This rainfall aside, the Central Valley is anywhere between 15 and 30 percent of normal this season. Even if the one or two inches fall over the next few days, it won't be enough to carry us out of the drought, and growers hope it won't hurt the crop.

"The damage that happens right now shows up in the fruit anywhere from 4 to 5 months from now," said Jacobson.

Growers say the best part of these storms is the snow that is expected in the mountains. It won't make much of a difference in the extremely low snow pack, but at this rate, every bit counts.

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