Local News

Friday, Dec 06 2013 06:55 PM

Forecast warms and wanes, to chance of snow

  1. 1 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Icicles hang from orange trees in an orange grove off of Breckenridge Road at noon Friday. Water is sprayed on the grove to protect the trees from the hard freeze.

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  2. 2 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    In some orange groves there is a rush to harvest before the next freezing night.

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  3. 3 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Orange trees are protected from a hard freeze by water sprayed on the orchards. Temperatures were cold enough at noon Friday that icicles formed from the water and freezing temperature still hang from orange trees.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    At mid-morning Friday foreman Ureas Aguilar has a crew harvesting oranges east of Bakersfield. He says some areas are not able to harvest because sunlight has not dried the trees enough to pick the oranges.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

This weekend's weather may bring a short respite for citrus growers and tons of fun for mountain snow sledders, but walking in a Bakersfield winter wonderland may be too much to ask.

A cold front is expected to move through Kern County quickly from north to south on Saturday morning, dropping 3 to 7 inches of snow above 1,500 feet in the mountains, and possibly some snow below 1,000 feet in the Tehachapi and Lake Isabella area.

By the time the storm crosses the San Joaquin Valley floor and Bakersfield, its frozen fury will likely be mostly melted and followed immediately by continued chill.

Growers were relieved about a warmer low of 33 predicted for Saturday, but are bracing themselves for lows in the 20s over the next three mornings.

"If it snows in Bakersfield it probably won't be measurable," said Cindy Bean, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. "It's probably going to mostly rain, but it could be mixed with snow or turn to snow."

On its website, the NWS has a winter weather advisory in effect for Kern County from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. It predicts less than a half-inch of snow tonight for Bakersfield, and less than an inch for Saturday morning.

But it's not expected to stick, at least not for long.

Less than one-tenth of an inch of rain is forecast for Bakersfield, and "little or no snow accumulation."

The cold weekend follows two days of below-normal temperatures.

Friday morning's low of 27 at Meadows Field airport mirrored conditions elsewhere in the valley.

"We got slammed," said Jennifer Stilwill, supervisor of the county's Fruit and Vegetables Standardization Program, reporting temperatures below 26 degrees for four and a half hours Friday morning in Edison.

Some fruit growers sounded more optimistic.

Doug Carman, vice president of farming for Paramount Citrus, said through a spokeswoman that while the effects of Friday night's freeze aren't known yet, he believes the company fared well.

Kern County Farm Bureau executive director Benjamin McFarland, who represents 1,500 growers, said much the same.

"None of my growers have reported back to me any losses," McFarland said, pointing out that temperatures must fall below 29 degrees for several hours to actually burst the juice sacs inside the fruit which cause it to dry out.

Sherri Minetti, whose father Dick has 30 acres of citrus groves in east Bakersfield, said keeping drip irrigation going overnight has helped keep their oranges, tangerines and lemons from freezing.

Staff writer John Cox contributed to this report.

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