Saturday Feb 14 2009
Snow turns Auburn into winter postcard; more precipitation in forecast
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
The Presidents’ Day long weekend is turning into a blustery round of snow and cold weather in the Auburn area. The return to winter conditions in a year marked by the lack of rain in Auburn started Friday, with more stormy weather in store Sunday. A rare convergence of cold and precipitation Friday dropped an inch of snow on Auburn, shutting schools and turning the foothills into a temporary winter wonderland. By late afternoon, rain had washed away nearly all signs of the snowfall in Downtown Auburn. At higher elevations, snow snarled traffic and made life more difficult for Sierra travelers. Sierra skiers were rejoicing Saturday after a series of storms that had dumped as much as 6 feet of show at Tahoe over the week. Parking lots were at capacity for what Rachael Woods, Alpine Meadows ski resort spokeswoman, said were the best conditions of the year. “I haven’t seen this many people with powder up to their waist in a very long time,” Woods said. Alpine Meadows reported more than two feet of new snow at 7,500 feet between Thursday and Saturday morning. Linda Robinson, a Colfax resident with a business in Old Town Auburn, reported 8 inches of snow outside her home. Electricity was on and off in the morning and she was unable to drive out to get to work but able to call in an assistant. Even the KCRA 3 satellite van got stuck in snow on a Colfax overpass, she said. While the weather outside was frightful Friday morning, Robinson couldn’t help note it was also delightful. “It’s beautiful and very quiet,” Robinson said through an e-mail message when her computer was up. “The branches of the trees are heavy and white and very still. I love it.” According to the Caltrans Web site, www.dot.ca.gov, eastbound Interstate 80 at Applegate was closed to trucks at Applegate mid-afternoon Saturday after several hours of metering. There had been a closure earlier in the day due to snow and accidents. Caltrans was advising motorists to use alternate routes. But by the afternoon normal vehicle traffic was being allowed through on I-80. A winter storm watch was posted and more snow is expected this afternoon through Monday afternoon. On westbound Interstate 80, trucks were being allowed over the summit. Caltrans was advising that drivers must have vehicle chains in their possession to proceed. Friday’s storm came after snow levels dropped to 1,200 feet in the morning, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento. The weather bureau reported Auburn, on the edge of the snowline at 1,200 feet, received an inch of the white stuff. Foresthill reported a foot or more by late Friday afternoon, with a new storm bringing in additional snow after 4 p.m. Among the closures was the Tahoe National Forest office. Many area schools declared Friday a snow day, leaving plenty of students to consume Valentine’s Day goodies over the long weekend that they had prepared for classroom parties. Closures included all Auburn Union schools, all Placer Union High School District campuses (except for Del Oro), Bowman School, Alta-Dutch Flat Elementary, Placer Hills Union School District campuses, Foresthill Union School District, Forest Lake Christian and St. Joseph’s Catholic School. Ophir and Newcastle schools remained open. Kevan Cole, who has two children at St. Joseph’s, said he got the call from the school’s principal at 6:45 a.m. and was soon on the phone to other parents on his phone tree to let them know about the snow day. “It is very much a rarity,” Cole said. “We get some maybe once a year and when it does, it’s gone in an hour. This is hanging around.” J.P. Kauinana, another St. Joseph’s parent, was happy to get the call this morning. An Antelope resident, he didn’t believe the snow day report until Cole sent him a photo. He was soon driving the 30 miles from rainy Antelope with his children Justin, 6, and Mikayla, 7, to enjoy a snow play day with Cole’s children, Sara, 8, and Christopher, 6. “I said, ‘Dude, we’re coming up. It’s play time,’” Kauinana said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment at Auburnjournal.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.