Southern California mountains see season’s first snow, with another storm forecast for next week
Rising snow levels and high avalanche danger in the mountains bring concern for first time spring in the West:
“We have snow in the mountains. We have snow in the higher elevations in the mountains,” said Joe Klimchuk, director of the National Weather Service in Mount Shasta, which is on California’s central coast.
The weather service issued its first wind warnings Tuesday afternoon, warning that winds could bring up to 20 inches of snow over the next several days, Klimchuk said.
Temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area were expected to dip into the low 30s, and could drop further with the arrival of a storm.
Another strong winter storm system is moving up the coast, bringing heavy snow to the mountains and coastal fog.
The new weather warnings came Wednesday morning, as a storm was expected to begin by Wednesday night, and continue well into Thursday.
The first snowfall of the year was predicted to fall on the higher elevations, with the snow possibly falling as much as a foot deep.
The forecast snow was expected in the range of 4 to 10 inches, with the worst at higher elevations.
Klimchuk said there can be high avalanche danger in the mountains at this time.
There have been several recent past snowstorms with a few inches of snow.
For example, in December 2012, the Sierra Nevada reported about 18 inches of snow at Mt. Whitney alone.
The last major snowstorm of 2012 was in February, with about two inches in some areas, including Mammoth Lakes.
The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is the amount of water in the snow pack at the end of the growing season, shrinks each year until it’s about two feet lower in March.
“We’re coming up on what’s probably the last storm of the season in the Sierra,” Klimchuk said.
The last major storm to hit Sierra was the winter of 1988-89, when an ice