165 lightning strikes hit Fresno/Clovis area during storm, NWS Hanford says

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Skies darkened in downtown Fresno on Wednesday as a winter storm moved over the city.

Thunder roared throughout the afternoon.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Hanford say 165 lightning strikes hit the ground in the Fresno and Clovis area, all within the span of an hour.

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There was some heavy rainfall and hail in some parts of the Valley. Parts of the Valley saw wind gusts of up to 60 mph, and quarter-sized pieces of hail.

The hail pounded orchards and damaged sensitive crops.

"The ground was just blanketed in white and that white this time of year can be very, very troubling for particularly grapevine growers and anyone with tree crops," said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen.

Officials with the Fresno County Farm Bureau said it could be several weeks to months before farmers can assess the damage.

While the hail was unfortunate, they said the storm would add to the mountain snowpack, meaning more water later.

They say it wasn't a significant amount, but right now, every little bit helps.

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Heavy rain and wind moved in overnight. Video shows rain falling hard at a gas station in Prather.



In the Eastern Sierra, the Mammoth Mountain ski resort reported 13 inches to 15 inches (33-38.1 centimeters) of new snow, with more expected.

The Sierra snowpack is an important part of California's water supply, but at the start of March its water content was about half the average normally recorded on April 1, when it is typically at its most robust.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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