Storm to bring much-needed snow, rain

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
February brought a generous share of sunny days and mild temperatures but it’s leaving with a smacking reminder that there’s still another month of winter in store. A system that brought clouds to the foothills and left more than a foot of snow at the crest of the Sierra Monday was just a prelude to a stronger storm moving in tonight and lasting into Thursday, according to the National Weather Service bureau in Sacramento. “There’s a winter storm watch for elevations above 3,000 feet,” forecaster George Cline said Monday. The heaviest precipitation will come Wednesday, with snow accumulations one to two feet above 6,500 feet. Auburn will see periods of light and moderate rain, totaling about a half-inch, he said. “There will be some north winds coming down with the storm,” Cline said. “The highest wind speeds will be Wednesday afternoon and into Thursday morning — 25 to 30 mph gusts in the foothills and getting close to 60 or 70 mph on the crest.” Overnight Wednesday, snow levels could bring a dusting as low as the 2,000 foot level, he said. Locally, temperatures will hover in the 40s during the day and 30s at night until the storm pushes out. “After that, high pressure moves in again,” Cline said. “It starts shielding us from showers and storm systems. There will be another drying-out out period.” Caltrans rates the incoming storm as about average for this time of year and will be out in force. “We’ll have 234 people and about 200 pieces of equipment operating on Interstate 80, but that’s pretty typical for any storm,” spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins said. “They’re ready to go and have crews in place.” She cautions travelers to be prepared for winter weather. “We’ve gotten a little complacent because we haven’t had the storms of last year,” she said.” Have emergency supplies, make sure someone knows the route you are taking and make sure you have a full tank of gas. Just in case we have spinouts and have to hold traffic, you’ll have plenty of gas to get to where you’re going.” The back-to-back storms are perfect timing for Sierra ski resorts — a snowy week and then clearing for the weekend. At Squaw Valley early Monday afternoon, spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said the mountain had received much as 7 inches of new snow. “It’s still continuing to come down really hard so we are really excited about it,” she said. …”We had our last substantial snowfall two weeks go and … that helped us business-wise for Presidents Day weekend and the weekend that followed.” Squaw and its sister resort, Alpine Meadows, are expecting at least three feet of snow by the time the storm ends. “Snow is really good for two reasons,” Richmond said. “It makes for great conditions and does a lot to get people excited about winter.” In the meantime, both resorts are offering $29 lift tickets for leap day on Wednesday “in honor of the day that only comes every four years,” she said. Monday’s storm was a welcome sight at Sugar Bowl, too. “We were expecting 1 to 2 inches, but have 14 inches so far and it’s still coming down,” spokeswoman Jennie Bartlett said. “Definitely this week we’ll be able to ease up on snowmaking. We’re still making snow in the beginner snow area and in the terrain parks.” Reach Gloria Young at ------------ Travelers to the Sierra can find the latest weather conditions and chain control information at