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Fresno set record highs for temperature Sunday at 72 degrees, 14 degrees above average.

January temperatures break records

Fresno set record highs for temperature Sunday at 72 degrees, 14 degrees above average.

Fresno set record highs for temperature Sunday at 72 degrees, 14 degrees above average. Katie Eleneke / The Collegian

Fresno is going through a spell of unprecedented weather as record-breaking heat and a lack of rain threaten to make this the hottest and driest January on record.

“This is uncharted territory in more ways than one,” said Gary Sanger, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford.

Fresno broke the record for most days in January at 70 degrees or higher Sunday. It has broken or tied single-day high records for the last seven days.

This is also the longest Fresno has gone into a new year without rain. The previous record was from 1903, when Fresno began the year with 21 days of no rain. Today marks the 27th day without rain this year.

Things are not expected to cool down until later this week, Sanger said. Thursday or Thursday night a front of cooler weather, cloud cover, wind and a slight chance of rain will come south through the Central Valley.

That can’t come soon enough for some local businesses, though. China Peak is relying heavily on artificial snow and has closed some runs.

“This is one of the toughest seasons we’ve ever seen in 56 years, or since we’ve had snowmaking,” China Peak Mountain Resort CEO Tim Cohee said. “The temps have been marginal over the past 30 days, which has forced us to stay on the runs we have open now and not be able to expand to other terrain.”

“The snowpack is dwindling, and they haven’t had anything to replenish it yet. We only got a light dusting from the storm that came through last weekend,” Sanger said.

China Peak has also cut down, sending many employees home early.

More than half of the employees will be let go by next week, said Montana Paxton, a recently released China Peak employee.

“It’s been like summer,” Paxton said.

“There is no snow and an inversion layer at the top of the mountain, so they can only produce snow on the lower mountain,” she said. “They’re having to make snow on the bottom half and truck it up then groom it down the rest of the mountain.”

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to California’s drought on Jan. 17.