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Mantecans, farmers ready for a rainy stretch
Its been a rare scene so far this year but rain is expected to return today and stay around for awhile. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Jacob Huff bounded across the grass in Northgate Park while his infant son Evan gave chase.

With spring temperatures and a spattering of sunshine, the young father figured he’d take advantage of the dry weather early in the week before a storm rendered his rambunctious son housebound.

And with an extra hour of daylight, Huff said he’s looking forward to the next prolonged dry spell so he can spend more time outdoors.

“I like the winter but we haven’t had much of one this year,” he said. “It’s given me a chance to bring my son to the park and have fun like this a lot more often. It’s supposed to rain later this week and I had time today so I thought this would be fun.”

According to Accuweather, scattered storms are expected to roll through the area over the next 11 days and bring precipitation on at least nine of those days that will offset the 70-plus degree days that most residents have been enjoying in the last few weeks. As much as an inch of rain is being predicted for today in Manteca. Manteca has received only 4.25 inches of rain since the start of the weather year on Oct. 1.

The storm is expected to bring consecutive rain throughout the workweek, and carry scattered showers through the beginning of next week – dropping snow at higher elevations in the Sierra and lower points at night.

Even though the rain might not be the best for parents with energetic young children that are dying to get outside and play, it’s a blessing for local farmers that have to deal with an extremely dry winter that when combined with an unusually warm winter made the growing season unfavorable.

Nearly all of the farmers that are part of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s water delivery network took an early winter run when it was made available with the clause that they might end up forgoing a late season run in its place – a stark contrast from the extremely wet winter of last year that filled reservoirs and ended California’s five-year drought. They won’t be able to get irrigation water until after April 1 due to snowpack being extremely low in the Sierra. The rain could tide farmers over until April.

None of that mattered to 14-year-old Ricardo Flores who was more than happy with the somewhat overcast but dry conditions at Doxey Park where he played a pickup game of soccer with some friends.

A lot of his friends, Flores said, turn to Big League Dreams during the winter so they don’t have to deal with the wet and muddy conditions that Manteca’s storm basins become after a healthy rainstorm.

This year, he said, that hasn’t been the case and he’s been able to find plenty of places around town to get games going on natural turf.

“I just like playing soccer on grass better – indoor is a different game – and it doesn’t cost any money to call your friends and get them to come down,” Flores said. “It looks like this might be our only chance this week, but we’ve been lucky so far this year.”