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Rainfall, cold to continue through weekend, experts say. But get ready for change next week

The uncharacteristically cold and rainy weather over the last several weeks in Merced County is finally expected to give way to heat and sun mid-next week, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters expect a major change in weather patterns around Wednesday or Thursday next week, said Andy Bollenbacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. They aniticapate a high pressure system to come into the Central Valley.

The dry weather could last more than a week, Bollenbacher said.

But that won’t be before Wednesday’s high powered storms and lingering showers drop more rain until Sunday, Bollenbacher said, when the west side of Merced County could see about a tenth of an inch of rain.

Strong thunderstorms dropped across the San Joaquin Valley Wednesday. But Merced County missed the meat of a storm that hit Tuolumne County hard.

The sheriff’s office there posted video on its Facebook page of water rushing down the street, warning drivers: “With the torrential rains today, there are many roads in the county and the city that are flooded. ... Some roads are flooded, but not closed yet, please do not cross a flooded road way! It takes just inches of water to move a car.”

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for central Mariposa County Wednesday, hours after Caltrans preemptively closed Highway 140, the main route from Merced to Yosemite National Park.

About 155 cubic yards of debris, including an oak tree, was removed from Highway 140 after Wednesday’s storms, Bollenbacher said.

NWS Hanford was monitoring social media reports Wednesday afternoon about flooding in Merced County but couldn’t immediately confirm them, Bollenbacher said.

Since Oct. 1, the beginning of the designated rainy season, 10.66 inches of rain dropped at the Merced airport as of Thursday, Bollenbacher said. That’s about 1.75 inches more than the average season.

A little more than 6.75 inches has dropped this year, which is more than 1.25 inches ahead of the average.

Tuolumne Meadows at 8,700 feet reached record February highs with 191 inches of snow dropped in the month.

That’s the second highest monthly amount in recorded history, Bollenbacher said, second to the 201 inches documented in January 2017.

Temperatures in Merced County are expected to be in the high 50s for the next few days before rising to the low 60s over the weekend, Bollenbacher said, noting showers could add up to another inch on the west side of the county.

“Temperatures are going to increase after Wednesday (next week),” Bollenbacher said. “It’s going to get quite a bit warmer.”

Patty Guerra of The Modesto Bee contributed to this report.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.