Winter storm sending heavy snow where California rarely sees it: NPR
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The winter storm hitting nearly half the United States means snow in parts of California that often don’t see it.
“It’s not too often that we talk about one to three feet of snow above 4,000 feet, let alone five feet locally,” National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy said in an update. day video released Tuesday for the San Diego area.
Part of what makes this series of storms unique, he says, is the amount of snow expected at lower elevations, including between 1,000 and 2,000 feet.
“It’s not a question of whether it’s going to rain or snow, but how much,” Tardy said, noting that the area is expected to see heavy snowfall through Friday evening, as well as a possible river atmospheric.
East of Los Angeles, Mount Baldy could receive up to 4.5 feet of snow by Saturday. That worries Mount Baldy lift general manager Robby Ellingson.
“It’s a bit difficult to assess,” said the 47-year-old longtime resident. “I’ve never seen these kinds of snowfall predictions.”
LA County is responsible for maintaining the bottom of the road to Mount Baldy, but isn’t used to clearing snow, he said. Ellingson also expressed concerns about potential rains that could follow and loosen the attached snow and cause flooding.
But even with his worries, part of Ellingson is optimistic – and he looks forward to the benefits of a heavy snowpack.
“We’ve had a great season already,” he said. “And it looks like we’re going to have quite a spring.”
For many Californians — especially those in the Sierra Nevada mountains — the storms are good news.
South Lake Tahoe’s snow operations team is ready to clear snow from roads, bike paths and sidewalks, Deputy City Manager Lindsey Baker said. And their first priority is to make sure emergency vehicles can get where they need to go.
“We learned a lot from previous storms,” Baker said. “We try with every storm we go through, to grow and improve on the next round.”
The emerging storm, she said, is ‘not anything unusual’ – and the city anticipates it won’t be the same kind of ‘non-stop, on deck situation’ as it experienced earlier this year.
Mammoth Mountain, home to a thriving winter tourist scene, is already six inches above its annual average of 400 inches of snowfall, spokeswoman Lauren Burke said.
“It’s been an incredible season here at Mammoth. We’ve already exceeded our annual seasonal snowfall,” she said, noting that the peaks received about 550 inches. “And then we got some much needed sunshine, and we’re back at it for the next week or two.”
The first two weeks of January brought the region 17 feet of snow in just 16 days, which Burke said caused the closure of roads and ski lifts, as well as piles of snow to shovel.
But the February storm is expected to be more manageable for the region — even though its top receives between 15 and 21 inches of snow Friday, as the National Weather Service predicts. Burke added that this storm should bring “the perfect amount of snow to get out and ski and ride.”
“We expect to see a lot of happy faces on the mountain,” she said.