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Spring on hold as cold, wet, wintry weather moves back in to Auburn area

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Spring took a short detour back into winter today. But the warming weather trend that toasted the Auburn area Sunday should be back on track by the time the weekend rolls around again, weather forecasters are predicting. After blue skies and temperatures well into the 70s on the weekend, a wintry blast of rain and even snow in some areas today took the area by storm. Millie Ruffalo was lucky to escape with her life. Winds and rain helped bring a tree limb down in a Lincoln Way parking lot during a downpour this morning in Auburn. The 30-foot-long oak branch fell with a crash directly next to her car door. She had been inside the car listening to the radio while her husband, Auburn Journal “Looking Behind the Scenes” columnist Jim Ruffalo, had been inside the Sparks Law Library working on an investigative story. She was uninjured. Things could have been much worse if she had been outside the vehicle or if the branch had fallen a different way and landed on the car. “I’m lucky to be alive,” Ruffalo said. About a mile east of Foresthill’s downtown, Debbie Griffin woke up to find the ground around her house a carpet of white and fluffy flakes the size of half-dollars floating down to the ground. By the time the storm had blown through at noon, Griffin estimated two inches of the white stuff had fallen. She shot several pictures of her Australian shepherd-Labrador mix that are now posted on the Auburn Journal Web site. One-year-old Crystal was cavorting, running laps, rolling and snuffling her nose in it, Griffin said. “It’s our fourth snowstorm in April,” Griffin said. “It’s crazy.” Taking a drive to Auburn, Griffin said she saw a dusting of snow as low as Colfax Elementary on the edge of the community’s downtown. Rain-slickened roads – and people not adjusting to the conditions – were making the commute more dangerous, California Highway Patrol Officer David Martinez said. “We’ve definitely had our share of accidents,” Martinez said. “They’re driving too fast, in a hurry.” Morning commutes were slowed by crashes at Highway 193 and Sierra College Boulevard and Highway 65 and the Pleasant Grove exit, he said. No serious injuries were reported. Water buildup from the steady rains was causing some drainage issues. “I noticed on my way to work that water was building up,” Martinez said. “Drivers had to be concerned about hydroplaning.” Brooke Bingaman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office, said temperatures could drop overnight to a low of 36 degrees, with highs today possibly reaching 50 degrees. But by Thursday, the thermometer should take a 10-degree jump in the other direction, with high temperatures closer to 60 degrees, Bingaman said. Temperatures will continue to inch up into the weekend, she said. Snow could continue falling in upper elevations. Gold Run Highway Patrol Officer Greg Cassina said chain controls were in effect part of the day between Drum Forebay and Rainbow Lodge exits. Snow chains should be carried from at least November to May, he said. “We’re not out of it yet,” Cassina said. “It’s a reminder that snow can hit late into the season.”