Atmospheric river in Central California could help drought conditions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central California will experience the cold before the storm as frigid air starts to move in.

Meteorologists are calling for an atmospheric river to arrive by Wednesday.

RELATED: An Atmospheric River is headed to Central California. Here's what to expect

"This actually looks like a very spectacular storm," says Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. "You don't want to count it before it has actually dropped but as of right now the projections, particularly for the snowpack up the Sierra Nevada, look very healthy."

Water is essential to the Valley's top industry and crop irrigation, so farmers like to see the storm clouds.

They'll offer a welcome change with most of the state under extreme or severe drought conditions.

The first snowpack survey of the season near South Lake Tahoe showed the snowpack was just 93% of the average.

"I can't say that we feel like we're on the path to an above-average year because we certainly aren't at this point, but it's looking a little bit better," says Randy McFarland with the Kings River Water Association.

Friant Dam is only at 32% capacity right now. Pine Flat's at 22%, so local reservoirs have plenty of room to store more water.

McFarland is concerned about possible flooding and mudslides in areas that burned during the Creek Fire.

"There is a very real possibility that heavy sustained rains in high elevations could result in a lot of land slippage and mudslides, and a very quick runoff into Millerton Lake," McFarland said.

Officials would like to see more fresh snow than falling rain in the mountains.

"This storm is expected to bring many feet to our mountain areas there," Jacobsen said.

Which ultimately will provide water to be used by valley communities later this summer.

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