Farmers hope storm starts wetter trend

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An approaching storm is expected to end our most recent dry spell - with northern California set for a drenching - but much of the state remained in exceptional drought.

We are still on course for a fourth year of a statewide drought. After two winter days in the 70's we actually saw some fruit trees start to blossom. Rain is desperately needed to help irrigate crops. A storm was headed our way though it remained to be seen how much it will improve the state snowpack.

Riverdale farmer Mark McKean said he was, "Really happy to hear a storm is coming in this weekend. Excellent but the reality of it is we're going to talk about biblical type rains to really correct this course right now because of the seriousness of the drought."

Hundreds of Valley farmers gathered in Selma to learn the latest on water quality regulations and groundwater monitoring. The Drought Monitor map showed 40% of our state was in "exceptional drought." That figure was closer to 10% a year ago. But one storm can't change the overall picture.

Kings River Conservation District general manager David Orth said, "We're hopeful that this storm that's coming in is kind of the opening of the door. It's really hard to predict. We need many more of these to get us out of this hole that we're in."

Farmers said playing catchup after a dry January gets tougher with each day as does planning for this year's crop.

McKean explained, "A lot of farmers have long-term debt, short-term debt, it all has to answered at the end of the year and the answers that we have continue to get shrunk down as possibilities when we don't have water."

The on-going drought has farmers frustrated though they hold out hope for much wetter conditions and a more reliable water supply.

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