Southern California mountains see season’s first snow, with another storm forecast for next week
The snowline in the Sierra Nevada mountains is more than 4,100 feet above sea level, or about 4,120 feet on Mount Whitney, making the mountains among the largest snow-covered peaks in the world.
Snow is predicted at higher elevations in the Lake Tahoe area, but the forecast also shows more stormy weather for Southern California. More than 10 inches are expected to fall in the mountains and foothills from Friday night through Sunday.
A winter storm watch was issued for Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area by the National Weather Service.
“The snowpack may show more at higher elevations than expected, and the storm is predicted to be intense,” said a forecast issued Thursday morning by the NWS.
There are snow showers and some rain possible at higher elevations through late Saturday night, the NWS forecast said, noting that “it is expected that up to 1 to 2 inches of rain may fall during this period.”
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CLIMATES DOWN, AUSTERS IN TENSE
Snow in winter is relatively rare for the region, and this winter’s storm was a record breaker, forecasters said Thursday.
“Usually, when we get cold weather with snowfall in the winter (about 40 inches, according to records), it’s a record, and we’ve never seen more than 6 inches come in one season,” said Jeff Burchfield, a climatologist with the National Weather Service at Stockton in northern California.
Burchfield said the recent snowfall was unusual, however, because of the rain, which the NWS called a “possible flash flood.”
“There’s lots of factors (that can contribute to a storm like this, not just the moisture),” Burchfield said. “It looks like (the rain) is helping to speed the snow. We had our best snowfall in 14 years.”
And the storm isn’t over yet, he said. “By Sunday, up into the mountains, more rain and snow will be in the forecast, so we’re still looking at potential totals in the low to mid-30s to low 40s Saturday night, with snow possible from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning.”
In recent years, Southern California has seen its rainy season end with snow, with the last storm in November 2012. The biggest December