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Located in the southern San Joaquin Valley not far from Fresno, Hanford is a rather dull town supporting a wide variety of agriculture, while Corcoran is a similar but smaller town further into the flatlands to the west. Areas to the east produce citrus crops. Many of the farms are prosperous, but the workers and many of the industries supporting them are economically challenged. The Sierra Nevada and its national parks begin their rise 20 miles east, with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks a windy 50 mile drive northeast.
Downtown Hanford is plain, with little cultural interest except for some notable elements of migrant heritage brought by early California railroad and agricultural history. The mountains can be seen on a clear day, but immediate surroundings are pancake-flat, treeless irrigated agricultural land, and distance from the mountains and typical valley haze reduce the appeal of the setting. Unemployment is high and educational attainment is low; these don’t mix well with the relatively high cost of living.
The southern San Joaquin Valley is flat and dry with significant haze most times obscuring the dramatic mountains rising both east and west. The Central Valley climate is extremely dry in summer and sometimes unbearably hot, with temperatures usually exceeding 90 and often exceeding 100 degrees. Evening cooling may occur with mountain air or breezes from the northwest – but often there is no breeze at all and it remains hot. There is almost no precipitation May through October. Winters are cool and moist but almost always above freezing with occasional episodes of thick fog. Light rain falls occasionally; heavy storms are unusual.
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