Early fall storm hammers California raisins in fields

By: TRACIE CONE (Associated Press)
By: TRACIE CONE (Associated Press)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- An unusually early winter storm dumped nearly an inch of rain on parts of California's agricultural heartland in less than five hours, flooding streets, uprooting trees and soaking a bumper crop of raisins drying in vineyards.

In the Sierra Nevada, snow has forced the closing of the 9,300-foot Tioga Pass through Yosemite National Park when it accumulated to about 7,000 feet.

Forecasters expect the snow level expected to drop to 6,000 feet throughout the day as the cold front continues.

The storm hit Tuesday in Northern California, then swept through the central portions before the tail brought rainfall to Southern California by midmorning on Wednesday.

Growers say nearly half of the raisin crop was soaked as it dried in the fields. California produces 40 percent of the world's raisins.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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